Officials involved in the recovery operation at the Gloria Coal Mine in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, say high levels of methane gas underground pose the risk of another explosion.

Recovery teams had to be withdrawn from underground due to the risk.

However another seven bodies were discovered but have yet to be brought to surface. This brings the total death toll to 12. Fifteen more people are unaccounted for.

Mine rescue practitioner, Mike Elliot, says the toxic gas and inclement weather are severely hampering recovery operations.

“The retrieving of the people will take place as soon as we put another fan onto the up-cast shaft and we’ve sucked the poisonous gasses and the explosive gasses down. Then we will send rescue teams down again we will recover those people at the same time we will start to search for the rest of the 22 people. The concentration of methane was exposing the rescue teams to another explosion so we withdrew the rescue teams. The bad weather is hampering us at the moment we don’t believe that much time before 5 days before we get the people out of the mine,” says Elliot.

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