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AKIPRESS.COM - Five people have been killed by a gas explosion in an unused coal mine in South Africa’s eastern province of Mpumalanga and several others remain trapped, police said on Thursday, Reuters reports.
State broadcaster SABC said about 20 people were still stuck underground at the mine in Middleburg.
Rescue efforts were hampered by dangerously high levels of toxic gas underground, SABC said.
The mine is owned by Tegeta Resources and Exploration, which is undergoing creditor protection after its owners, the Gupta brothers, found it difficult to continue doing business in South Africa following corruption allegations against them.
Several people had entered the mine on Wednesday afternoon to steal copper wires that supply electricity for lighting and ventilation when a gas pipe exploded, police spokesman Leonard Hlati said.