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Thirteen miners were trapped underground at a South African gold mine on Thursday after an quake that measured 2.2 caused a cave-in, mine operator Sibanye-Stillwater said.

James Wellsted, the spokesman for mining operator Sibanye-Stillwater, said the deaths are linked to an natural disaster that took place at the mine on Thursday.

Rescue workers prepare to rescue more than 900 miners from the Sibanye-Stillwater's Beatrix mine in South Africa in February.

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"The other two employees have been transported to hospital and are in a stable condition". Another employee has been located, while two employees remain unaccounted for. The trapped workers were not responding to attempts to contact or locate them, he said. "This suggests that greater attention be paid to issues of safety‚ particularly the protection of the lives of workers‚ as opposed to the insistence of chasing production".

South African gold mines are among the world's deepest and oldest, with workers going further and further underground to access new ore in a country that's been mined commercially for over a century.

The Department of Mineral Resources and unions had been informed of the event Thursday and had representatives on the site assisting with the rescue efforts. The seismic event, which occurred at about 13:30, caused a fall of ground in an operating stope, according to a statement by the mining company.


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