More South African miners freed; others refuse to come out for fear of arrest
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1758 GMT (0158 HKT)
- NEW: More miners are freed Monday after two days in the mine
- NEW: Rescuers say a total of 24 have been freed; a handful are still underground
- Miners who are freed are taken into custody after medical checks
- Miners were working in a long-abandoned gold mine illegally, authorities say
Benoni, South Africa (CNN) -- More miners were freed Monday after being trapped for two days in an illegal gold mine in South Africa, authorities said.
After some miners surfaced, authorities said a total of 24 had been freed, according to rescuers from ER24 emergency medical service. The miners said they were trapped on Saturday, and the rescue effort began on Sunday.
But a handful of others still underground were refusing to come out because they feared being arrested, the rescuers said.
One miner was trying to persuade the approximately six miners who were still underground to come up, ER24 said.
The mine is an abandoned gold mine in Benoni, just outside Johannesburg.
Those who have surfaced were taken to a medical station and checked for injuries, and once they cleared, were taken into custody by local police, ER24 said.
The miners who've emerged are in good health, officials said.
Earlier, boulders blocking the miners from exiting the mine were removed, ER24 reported.
Initially ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said that a rockslide trapped the miners. But Govan Whittles, a reporter for South Africa Eyewitness News at the scene, said the miners told rescuers that a rival group dropped boulders down the shaft to trap them.
Police looking for illegal dumping heard the men crying for help.
Gold-rich South Africa has repeatedly warned its citizens against trying to dig into old mines. Illegal mining "poses a danger not only to the miners themselves, but to the communities, as well as the economy and existing mines," Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said in September.
South Africa's Parliament has discussed legalizing the illegal mines to allow the miners to earn a living, but the cost of bringing the mines up to modern safety codes could be prohibitive.
READ: Eight bodies found after South Africa gold mine fire
READ: 10 killed, 2 rescued in China coal mine flooding
CNN's Brent Swails reported from Benoni. Christabelle Fombu and Emily Smith contributed to this report. Ashley Fantz wrote this story in Atlanta.
Part of complete coverage on
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 0412 GMT (1212 HKT)
Until clearer information comes to light, here's a summary of what we know, and what we don't.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Turns out it's not as hard as you think to board a plane with a stolen passport.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0300 GMT (1100 HKT)
Aaron Miller says even those with little knowledge of Ukraine should spot the myths we've heard.
Track star Oscar Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Follow live updates of South Africa's trial of the century.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
CNN reveals it's not just trade in which Russian interests are strongly represented -- it's in some of the most lavish assets around the world.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
What we commonly call the Web is really just the surface. Beneath that is a vast, mostly uncharted ocean called the Deep Web.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
On March 1, football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board, met to debate the idea of a "sin-bin."
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1756 GMT (0156 HKT)
"Don't ask me about her again," Justin Bieber tells lawyer after question on Selena Gomez.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
It seems architects are increasingly drawn to buildings you can see straight through.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 1758 GMT (0158 HKT)
In the early 1960s, a young postdoctoral student stumbled onto something that puzzled him.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)
Was it a bomb? Mechanical failure? A hijacking gone awry? Pilot error? Here are four scenarios that aviation experts are discussing.
Today's five most popular stories