harmonyThe Times reports that the force of last Thursday’s explosion in a decommissioned Harmony Gold mine was felt across the mining town of Welkom.  

The suspected methane gas explosion 3km underground shook buildings, rattled windows and, said residents, made their furniture move.  Four brothers — 28-year-old twins and their siblings aged 24 and 22 — were killed instantly along with more than 40 other zama zamas (illegal miners).  Dozens were instantly vaporised or burnt beyond recognition.  Some of those whose bodies have been found so far were identified by name tags on their bodies under clear sticky tape — a practice zama zamas have adopted to aid identification in the event of accidents.  For days mine authorities and the police have been pulling up bodies through the mine’s Eland shaft.  Free State police said the recovery operation would continue for as long as there were still bodies underground.  Lauren Fourie, Harmony Gold spokesman, said:  “The illegal miners that weren’t affected by the blast took the bodies of those who were killed to Eland shaft.  They then alerted security and security alerted police.”  She said there was no way to confirm how many other bodies were still trapped underground.

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