Rescuers began removing bodies yesterday from the twisted wreckage of an elevator that plunged a third of a mile to the bottom of a deep shaft with at least 100 gold miners on board.
Officials said it is unlikely that anyone survived the accident Wednesday night in Orkney, 112 miles southwest of Johannesburg.
A locomotive moving through the wrong tunnel crashed through barriers and fell onto the elevator, which was filled with workers leaving the mine at the end of their shift, said Dick Fisher, regional general manager of the Vaal Reefs mining company.
The cable snapped and the metal cage plunged 1,650 feet to the bottom of the 1.4-mile-deep mine.
At least 100 people were in the two-floor elevator. The impact left the elevator's bottom level only 18 inches high, Fisher said.