The last of the 3,200 workers who were trapped more than a mile underground in a South African gold mine were rescued Thursday, according to media reports.
They were trapped at about 6 a.m. Wednesday in the Elandsrand Mine gold mine in Carletonville gold mine near Johannesburg when the power source was knocked out, disabling the elevators leading to the surface, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Welile Nhlapo told CNN.
The mine is owned and operated by Harmony Gold Mining Ltd., the world’s fifth biggest gold producer.
The cage carrying the final 45 miners reached the surface before 10 p.m. local time, Harmony spokeswoman Amelia Soares told Bloomberg News. The workers were transported through a shaft normally used for waste after the main shaft was damaged by a falling pipe.
The mine, about 50 miles southwest of Johannesburg, will stay shut for three to six weeks while both the company and the South Africa Department of Minerals and Energy investigate the accident, Bloomberg News reports.
Harmony Gold Mining Company president Graham Briggs said a large compressed air pipe fell down a shaft, knocking out power.
“This was a situation where the people were not really in danger, they were underground,” Briggs told CNN on Thursday. “It’s not really an accident in the sense of an underground accident–in the sense of a falling rock.”
Mine officials said no workers were killed or injured during the ordeal, CNN reports.