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54 trapped gold miners rescued
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15:07, October 25, 2007

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All 54 miners who spent nearly 8 hours trapped underground by a fire in a Western Australian gold mine have been rescued, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported yesterday.

The ABC's website said all 54 had been recovered and local authorities had begun an investigation into the incident.

The fire broke out in a caterpillar truck working underground at the Kanowna Belle gold mine, forcing the miners to shelter in refuge stations, Barrick Gold Corp said.

"The fire has been extinguished by the onboard fire suppression system. As a precautionary measure the 54 employees working underground at the time proceeded to the refuge chambers," the company said in a statement.

The company spokeswoman Selena Watt said, "Everyone has been brought to the surface throughout the afternoon, with the last 16 evacuated by 5:20 pm (18:20 Beijing time)."

"They're hoping to get the truck out tonight and they're looking to have the operations up and running by the morning," Watt said.

Kanowna Belle, 20 km northeast of the outback mining town of Kalgoorlie, boasts a rich lode containing more than 14 million ounces of gold.

In 2006, 17 miners were working in the Beaconsfield gold mine on the southern Australian island of Tasmania when it collapsed. Fourteen escaped at once, one was killed, and the remaining two were rescued after surviving for two weeks about one kilometer underground.

Another mining accident in South Africa this month killed 23 miners after a fire in a gold mine.

Source: China Daily/Agencies

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