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Johannesburg - Hundreds of mineworkers have been rescued after they were trapped underground following a fire which broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning at Gold One's Modder East operations in Springs, east of Johannesburg.

The Department of Mineral Resources said that 644 employees were underground at the time of the accident, and all of them were evacuated to the mine's refuge bays from where they were brought to the surface.

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe commended the successful rescue operation and reiterated his call for industry's adherence to safety measures.

"We commend all the rescue teams involved, as well as the mine employees and management, for their swift action in ensuring that we averted a potential disaster," Mantashe said.

"We reiterate our call to mining companies to prioritise the safety of mineworkers, and to ensure that everyone adheres to the guidelines provided for safety at the mines."

Two weeks ago, six miners died when a fire broke out underground at the Phalaborwa mining company’s shaft in Limpopo.

African News Agency/ANA