NUM said over 100 mineworkers were being treated for smoke inhalation after a blaze broke out at Gold One's Modder East operations in Springs. File picture: Reuters

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said that more than 100 mineworkers were being treated for smoke inhalation after they were rescued from an underground blaze that broke out on Thursday morning at Gold One's Modder East operations in Springs, east of Johannesburg.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) earlier confirmed that 644 mineworkers were rescued underground when a fire started in the early hours of Thursday morning, and all of them were evacuated to the mine's refuge bays from where they were brought to the surface.

The NUM said it was disturbed by this incident, especially as it took place hardly two weeks after six workers died when a fire broke out underground at a Phalaborwa Mining Company mineshaft in Limpopo.

"The NUM has learnt with shock that more than 600 miners were rescued after an underground fire that broke out in the early hours of today at Gold One’s Modder East operations in Springs, east of Johannesburg," Duncan Luvuno, NUM health and safety chairperson said in a statement.

"The NUM is reliably informed that a bell truck caught fire while operating underground. More than 100 employees suffered from smoke inhalation and are currently treated at [Life Springs] Parkland Hospital."

Luvuno said the union demands an immediate investigation by the department as the regulator on this incident, and commended the efforts by the rescue team in making sure that all workers were brought to the surface alive.

African News Agency (ANA)