Fire traps 54 Australian gold miners

ANBERRA, Australia – Officials are confident of rescuing 54 miners who were trapped underground Wednesday by a fire in an Australian gold mine, a mining company said.

Barrick Gold Corp. spokeswoman Selena Watt said there were no injuries and the mine’s rescue team should have all the miners back to the surface by late Wednesday.

“We expect that with the progress that we’re making today, that we’ll hopefully have everybody to the surface by the end of the day,” she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

The miners all moved into underground emergency shelters in the Kanowna Belle mine near the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia state, the company said in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, the 54 employees working underground at the time proceeded to the refuge chambers,” it said.

“The site mine rescue team with regional assistance is in attendance and are in the process of bringing the employees to the surface,” it added.

It was not immediately clear whether any had yet surfaced.

The fire broke out in a truck engine at midmorning Wednesday and was quickly extinguished but created health concerns because of smoke, the ABC and the statement said.

Mine officials were not immediately available for comment.



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