Hlathi did not immediately say what the cause of the smoke was, but referred further enquiries to the mine’s management. Gloria coal mine’s business rescue practitioners’ representative, Mike Elliot, said they would issue a statement with full details later on Friday.
The 13 retrieved bodies are those of some of about 20 people who were trapped at Gloria coal mine’s underground area about three weeks ago, when an explosion occurred while they were allegedly stealing cables.
The rescue and recovery operations started immediately after the explosion and saw the bodies of five men retrieved from underground. A sixth man was brought to the surface alive and taken to the hospital for treatment, where he was later discharged.
The rescue and retrieval operations were subsequently marred by, among other things, the rising level of methane gas that made the conditions underground unsafe. This prompted the sporadic stoppages of the operations for safety reasons.
The mine has been closed since September after hundreds of miners were not been paid their salaries. Since then, the mine has struggled with an increase in cable theft.
Additional reporting by ANA