Death Toll In Iraq Protest Rises To 157

Iraqi protesters take part in a demonstration against state corruption, failing public services, and unemployment, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad’s central Khellani Square on October 4, 2019. AFP

The death toll from week-long anti-government protests that erupted in Baghdad and southern Iraq at the start of October totalled 157, an official inquiry announced Tuesday, ahead of further demonstrations.

It also said commanders from across the security forces had been dismissed in the wake of the violence, including from the army, police, anti-terror, anti-riot, anti-crime, intelligence and national security units.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, in a report of its own, said that “serious human rights violations and abuses have been committed” and excessive force used against demonstrators.

“Attacks against media outlets and the blocking of internet/social media seem to have been used as tools to deter participation in the demonstrations as well as to repress reporting and activism,” the UN mission said.

UNAMI called for “concrete steps to prevent violence and enable future peaceful demonstrations” and stressed “the critical importance of seeking accountability for perpetrators”.

The official inquiry found that 111 of the dead, nearly all of them protesters, had been killed in Baghdad.

Around 70 percent of the deaths were caused by bullet wounds “to the head or chest”, according to the findings, published as Iraq braces for fresh protests on Friday.

The official toll included 149 civilians and eight members of the security forces killed between October 1 and 6, during protests in the capital and across mainly Shiite southern provinces.

Four security personnel were killed in Baghdad, where clashes initially centred around the iconic Tahrir Square after protesters rallied to demand jobs, services and an end to corruption.

Later unrest in the capital sparked a bloody night of violence in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City.

Authorities formed a commission of inquiry to investigate, after initially only acknowledging security forces used excessive force in a few instances.

In its report, the inquiry blamed some deaths on security forces, but also mentioned other “shooters”, without identifying them.

From the start, authorities accused “unidentified snipers” posted on rooftops overlooking protesters and security forces for deaths.

 ‘Disobedience’ by security forces 

The commanders dismissed in the aftermath of the deadly clashes were stationed in Baghdad and six provinces south of the capital.

Their dismissal must be confirmed by Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, who faces public pressure ahead of the first anniversary of his cabinet on Friday.

Human rights groups and Iraqis able to post on social media, inaccessible without a virtual private network (VPN), accuse security forces of responsibility for protester deaths: either by firing themselves or by failing to protect demonstrators from snipers.

Former premier Haider al-Abadi, now in opposition, condemned the findings of the official inquiry.

“This report points to disobedience by military and security officials who decided to open fire contrary to their orders,” he said in a statement. “But it does not explain how the ‘disobedience’ lasted several days without the higher levels of leadership taking control.”

Protests shook Iraq for six days from October 1, with young Iraqis initially denouncing corruption and demanding jobs and services before calling for the downfall of the government.

Parliament, which has been deeply divided over the protest movement, is to meet Saturday to discuss the demonstrators’ demands.

AFP

Hurricane Dorian Death Toll Hits 45, Many More Missing

An aerial view of damage from Hurricane Dorian on September 5, 2019, in Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Authorities in the Bahamas have updated the death toll from Hurricane Dorian to 45, with police calling for the public to register details of the many people still missing.

One week after Dorian flattened homes and buildings, a major relief operation is working to deliver supplies to desperate residents seeking food, water and shelter.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force said that they had found 37 bodies on Abaco island and eight on Grand Bahama island.

“We anticipate the discovery of more bodies,” police said in a statement late Sunday.

“There are many more persons presumed missing and we are appealing to the public to file Missing Persons reports.

“Every effort is being made along with our local and international law enforcement partners.”

With survivors being evacuated from the worst-hit areas, officials have said that hundreds or even thousands of people are still missing.

After progressing up the US east coast, Dorian, downgraded to a post-tropical storm, caused severe damage in eastern Canada before moving over the Labrador Sea.

AFP

Death Toll Rises To 75 In Tanzania Fuel Tanker Explosion

 

The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Tanzania rose to 75 on Monday as four more people succumbed to their injuries, a hospital official said. 

“We deplore four new deaths. Their bodies are currently resting at the morgue while we wait for relatives to identify them,” said Aminiel Aligaesha, spokesman for the National Hospital in the economic capital, Dar es Salaam.

Funeral services which began Sunday were expected to continue Monday as the country concluded a period of national mourning declared by President John Magufuli.

The explosion took place Saturday morning near the town of Morogoro, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

READ ALSO: Rocket Fire Hits Libya Airport, Breaking Eid Truce

The dead were trying to collect leaking petrol from the overturned tanker.

Witnesses said the truck tipped over as it tried to avoid a motorcycle, and locals quickly converged on the scene to collect fuel.

The explosion was triggered when a man tried to retrieve the truck’s battery, creating sparks that ignited the fuel, officials said.

It was the latest in a string of such disasters in Africa and at least the third this year.

Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel. In May, a similar incident in Niger killed nearly 80 people.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Sunday that of 59 people injured in the Tanzania explosion, 43 had been transferred to the National Hospital in Dar es Salaam while the rest were receiving treatment in Morogoro.

Aligaesha said Monday that the remaining 39 patients at the National Hospital were “doing better” and that medical staff were “striving to provide them with the best possible care”.

Morogoro Governor Stephen Kebwe said the 16 patients there were also improving.

AFP

Death Toll From Texas Mass Shooting Rises To 21

Law enforcement agencies respond to an active shooter at a Wal-Mart near Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. Joel Angel Juarez / AFP

 

The death toll from a mass shooting in the southern US city of El Paso, Texas, rose to 21 after one of the wounded died in hospital Monday, police said.

“Sad to report that the number of fatalities increased by one. The victim passed early this morning at the hospital,” the city’s police department said on Twitter.

AFP

Jos Building Collapse Death Toll Rises To 12

Twelve people have been confirmed dead after a three-storey residential building collapsed following torrential rain in Jos, Plateau State. 

The figure was confirmed on Tuesday evening by NEMA’s Head of Rescue Operations, North Central, Mr Nurudeen Musa.

Nurrdeen said bodies of four female, eight male persons have been recovered from the rubbles.

He added that four other victims have rescued.

Rescue operations continue as the operators sifted through the rubble overnight after the building collapsed on Monday.

The collapse came after three days of pounding rain.

Emergency officials said it occurred during working hours, sparing dozens of residents, who later returned to find their homes destroyed.

Residents said that extra floors of residential housing had been added to the building in recent years.

It will be recalled that 20 people died when a building housing a nursery and primary school collapsed in Lagos, in March 2019.

Sri Lanka Lowers Death Toll To 253, Admits Calculating Error

A Sri Lankan priest blesses the coffins of bomb blast victims during a funeral service at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019. AFP

 

Authorities in Sri Lanka on Thursday lowered the death toll in a spate of Easter bombings by more than 100 to 253, admitting some of the badly mutilated bodies had been erroneously double-counted.

The toll revision will boost the pressure on a government already under fire over its apparent failure to act on intelligence about the attacks and follows the resignation of a top defence official.

The top bureaucrat in the island nation’s defence ministry, Hemasiri Fernando, was the first official to step down in the wake of the attacks — the worst since a civil war ended more than a decade ago.

“Many of the victims were badly mutilated… There was double counting,” the health ministry said in explaining the new death toll of 253, down from 359 announced on Wednesday.

The ministry said that once all autopsies were completed, and cross-referenced with DNA samples, the new lower toll was reached.

The ministry did not offer a new breakdown of the tally in terms of locals and foreigners. Earlier, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry had said 40 of the victims were foreign nationals.

Indian intelligence shared several specific warnings about plans for attacks with Sri Lankan authorities, an Indian source told AFP, but the information was not given to ministers, in what Colombo has called a “major” lapse.

Authorities are now in a desperate hunt for suspects linked to the bloodshed. On Thursday, police released the names and photos of three men and three women they want to question.

Tensions remained high, with the capital on alert over rumours of fresh bombs, but police said there had been no credible reports of explosive devices.

Sri Lanka’s Catholic church nonetheless suspended all public services and closed churches “on the advice of security forces”.

Private burials were still to be carried out.

President Maithripala Sirisena met Thursday with political party leaders and announced he would revive a military-police body last used during the country’s fight against Tamil insurgents to coordinate operations after the bombings.

In the past, the joint operations command was headed by a senior military figure and included members of the military as well as police and intelligence.

Visa-free plan halted 

Security forces using special powers granted under a state of emergency have arrested 16 more suspects, bringing the total in custody to 74.

The army, navy and air force poured more than 3,000 additional troops onto the streets to help police.

Authorities have banned drone flights and the government suspended plans to implement visa-free travel for tourists from 39 countries — including European Union nations, Australia and the United States — for six months from May 1.

Sri Lanka’s police chief warned on April 11 of possible suicide bombings against churches by local Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), citing information from a foreign intelligence agency.

India warned Sri Lanka several times of possible attacks, based on information from suspects arrested in India over links to the Islamic State group, a source close to the Indian investigation told AFP.

But that information was not shared with top ministers in Sri Lanka, the government has conceded.

“It was a major lapse in the sharing of information,” deputy defence minister Ruwan Wijewardene said Wednesday.

Sirisena, who is also defence and law and order minister, has pledged to make “major changes in the leadership of the security forces.

Fernando was the first to go, telling Sirisena in a letter that he was “accepting responsibility and resigning,” a defence ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Additional resignations were expected.

Investigators are still piecing information together about the attacks and those involved, with officials revealing one attacker had studied in Britain and did post-graduate studies in Australia before returning to Sri Lanka.

Wijewardene said most of the assailants were “well-educated and come from middle, upper-middle-class families, so they are financially quite independent.”

 FBI investigating 

Experts say the bombings had many of the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

An FBI team on the ground is helping with the investigation.

Among the suspects unaccounted for is NTJ leader Zahran Hashim, who appeared to be among eight people seen in a video released Tuesday by IS.

Officials said it was still unclear whether Hashim was among the suicide attackers or had escaped.

In all, nine people are believed to have blown themselves up on Sunday, either during attacks or when police attempted to arrest them.

Among them were two Muslim brothers, sons of a wealthy Colombo spice trader who is now in custody. The brothers blew themselves up at the Shangri-La and the Cinnamon Grand hotels.

The Kingsbury hotel in the capital was also hit, along with three churches. The fourth attack on a hotel failed, authorities said. The would-be attacker was followed back to a Colombo guest house, where he blew himself up, killing two people.

Two more people — a man and a woman — blew themselves up at another location as security forces launched a raid, killing three police, sources said.

AFP

Death Toll In Sri Lanka Blasts Rises To 310

Sri Lankan security personnel inspect the debris of a car after it explodes when police tried to defuse a bomb near St. Anthony’s Shrine as priests look on in Colombo on April 22, 2019. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

The toll from a string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 310, with several people dying of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Around 500 people were wounded in the blasts, Ruwan Gunasekera said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Colombia Mudslide Death Toll Rises To 28

He added that 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks, which Sri Lanka’s government has blamed on a previously little-known local Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

AFP

Death Toll In Sri Lanka Blasts Rises To 207 – Police

Sri Lankan security personnel walk next to dead bodies on the floor amid blast debris at St. Anthony’s Shrine following an explosion in the church in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

The toll in a series of eight blasts in Sri Lanka on Sunday has risen to at least 207, with over 450 people wounded, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Speaking at a press conference, he said three people had been arrested in connection with the attacks that mostly targeted high-end hotels in the capital and churches where worshippers were attending Easter services.

Gunasekera said the police were investigating whether suicide bombers were involved in all of the blasts.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attacks — the worst act of violence since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war a decade ago — as “cowardly”, as the government imposed an immediate and indefinite curfew across the entire country of 21 million people.

The powerful blasts -– six in quick succession and then two more hours later — left hundreds injured and wrought devastation, including at the capital’s well-known St Anthony’s Shrine, a historic Catholic Church.

READ ALSO: World Leaders React To Sri Lanka Easter Blasts

At least two of the explosions were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police sources and a hotel official.

Ravinatha Aryasinha, secretary to the foreign ministry, told reporters there were 27 bodies of suspected foreign nationals in the Colombo National Hospital.

A police official said earlier that 35 foreigners were among the dead and hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens had been killed, with Britons and Japanese also injured. A Portuguese man and two Chinese citizens were among the dead, news agencies in their countries reported.

    World Leaders React

Religious and world leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed more than 200 people including dozens of foreigners — with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.

Hospital sources also said Japanese citizens were among those injured by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.

Here is a summary of the reactions:

 Britain: ‘Stand together’ 

British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as “truly appalling”.

“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” she tweeted.

“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practise their faith in fear.”

 Trump: ‘Ready to help’ 

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences from the people of the United States to the people of Sri Lanka on the horrible terrorist attacks on churches and hotels,” he tweeted.

“We stand ready to help!”

 The Netherlands: ‘Terrible reports’ 

“Terrible reports from Sri Lanka about bloody attacks on hotels and churches on this Easter Sunday,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted after the initial news of the attacks.

“Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives.”

 Pope: ‘Cruel violence’ 

Pope Francis expressed his sadness over the attacks during his traditional Easter address at the Vatican.

“I want to express my affectionate closeness with the Christian community, attacked while it was at prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said.

The Catholic Church in Jerusalem had said in an earlier statement: “We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for the speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation.”

 Australia: ‘Terrorist attack’ 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement: “To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support — and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need.

“At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack.”

 New Zealand: ‘Devastating’ 

A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the Sri Lanka attack as “devastating”.

“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.

“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.”

 Pakistan: ‘Horrific’ 

Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan offered his “profound condolences” to Sri Lanka.

“Strongly condemn the horrific terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday resulting in precious lives lost & hundreds injured,” he tweeted.

“My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren. Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief.”

 India: ‘Cold-blooded’ 

Narendra Modi, the leader of neighbouring India, condemned the “serial terrorist attacks” in a government statement.

“Terming them as cold-blooded and pre-planned barbaric acts, he pointed out that these attacks were another grim reminder of the most serious challenge posed to the entire humanity by terrorism in our region and the entire world,” the statement added.

“There is no place for such barbarism in our region,” he tweeted earlier.

 EU: ‘Sad day for the world’ 

EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his “horror and sadness” at the blasts, while EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the attacks marked “a truly sad day for the country and for the world”.

“Such acts of violence on this holy day are acts of violence against all beliefs and denominations, and against all those who value the freedom of religion and the choice to worship,” she added in a statement.

 France: ‘Odious acts’ 

“We strongly condemn these odious acts,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.

“Full solidarity with the Sri Lanka people and our thoughts for all those close to the victims this Easter.”

 Germany: ‘Malicious attack’ 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “religious hate and intolerance that have shown themselves in such a terrible way today must not win”.

“It is shocking that people who gathered to celebrate Easter together were consciously targeted in this malicious attack,” Merkel said in a statement published by a spokeswoman on Twitter.

 Russia: ‘Cynical crime’ 

“I would like to reassert that Russia has been and remains a reliable partner of Sri Lanka in combating the threat of international terrorism,” Vladimir Putin said in a Kremlin statement.

“I expect that the masterminds and perpetrators of such a heinous and cynical crime committed in the midst of Easter celebrations will get the punishment they deserve.”

 Israel: ‘Deep shock’ 

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses in the name of Israel’s citizens deep shock over the murderous attacks against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka,” a government statement said.

“Israel is willing to aid the authorities in Sri Lanka in this difficult time. The whole world must unite in the struggle against the scourge of terror.”

AFP

Death Toll From Indonesia Mine Collapse Rises To 16

Indonesian rescue workers removing a body of a miner from a collapsed mine in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi. Ungke Pepotoh / AFP

 

The death toll from last week’s collapsed gold mine in northern Indonesia has risen to 16, as hopes to find survivors fade, an official said Wednesday.

Eighteen people have been pulled alive but injured from the illegal mine on Sulawesi island, but it is unclear how many were inside when the accident happened last Tuesday.

Painstaking rescue efforts have been hampered by steep terrain, unstable soil and dangerously narrow mining shafts.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said “the evacuation team has been working 24 hours nonstop since Monday”, when the site was deemed safe for search teams.

Two excavators have been clearing debris to find more bodies that could still be trapped inside the mine, he added.

READ ALSO: Up To 100 Still Feared Trapped In Indonesia Mine

For the first few days, the team had to dig by hand to reach survivors because of the precarious conditions.

Rescuers also had to temporarily halt the search on Tuesday after rocks started to fall on them.

“At this point, the chances of finding any survivors are very slim,” Abdul Muin Paputungan, from the local disaster mitigation agency, told AFP.

It is unclear how many miners were inside the shafts at the time of the accident as survivors had given varying tallies.

But rescue agencies said some miners reported it could be between 50 and 100.

Paputungan said it was unlikely the team would be able to find all the miners.

The accident happened in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi, where five miners were killed in December after a similar illegal gold mine accident.

Mineral-rich Indonesia has scores of unlicensed mines — many with complete disregard for even the most basic of safety procedures.

In 2016, 11 miners died after a mudslide engulfed an illegal gold mine in Sumatra’s Jambi province.

A year earlier, 12 people were killed when a shaft collapsed after they tunnelled into a disused gold mine on Java island.

AFP

Indian Toxic Alcohol Death Toll Rises To 143

Indian flag

 

At least 45 more workers have died in northeastern India after drinking toxic liquor, police said Sunday, taking the death toll from the latest mass alcohol poisoning beyond 143.

The deaths in Assam state came less than two weeks after tainted liquor killed around 100 people in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

At least 200 others were still hospitalised across Assam.

“A total of 85 people have died in Golaghat district due to consumption (of toxic alcohol),” Dhiren Hazarika, deputy commissioner of the worst affected region, told AFP.

“Another 100 are undergoing treatment in the district. The rush of new patients has (only) slowed down today afternoon,” he added.

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Roshni Korati, the deputy commissioner of the neighbouring Jorhat district, told AFP that the death toll in the district had reached 58.

At least 160 people were undergoing treatment at local hospitals and “16 of them are critical”, Korati added.

Police said people started falling sick after consuming a batch of illegally produced liquor late Thursday.

The victims, who include many women, worked at local tea estates in the region.

Doctors said those rushed to hospital in a critical condition were suffering from severe vomiting, extreme chest pain and breathlessness.

“A total of ten people have been arrested. We have sent the samples of the liquor… to a forensic laboratory. The report is awaited,” Mukesh Agarwala, additional director general of state police, told AFP on Sunday.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered an inquiry into the deaths.

Apart from the arrests, two excise department officials were suspended for failing to take adequate precautions over the sale of the alcohol.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma vowed those responsible for the tainted liquor would be brought to justice.

 Methanol 

Hundreds of mainly poor people die each year in India from tainted liquor, which normally costs just a few US cents a bottle.

Cheap, locally made booze is common in rural parts and bootleggers often add methanol — a highly toxic form of alcohol sometimes used as an antifreeze — to their product to increase its strength.

If ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.

Many drinkers in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were taken to hospital earlier this month in writhing pain after drinking illicit alcohol.

About 100 people died after consuming the tainted moonshine.

In 2015, more than 100 people died in a Mumbai slum after drinking illegal liquor.

Of the estimated five billion litres of alcohol drunk every year in India, around 40 percent is illegally produced, according to the International Spirits and Wine Association of India.

Many Indian states have implemented or pushed for prohibition, which, according to critics, further increases the unsupervised manufacture and sale of alcohol.

Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, banned alcohol in 2016. But just months after prohibition took effect, 16 people died after consuming toxic liquor.

The entire staff of a local police station in the eastern state were suspended for “dereliction of duty” and failure to stop bootlegging.

AFP

Death Toll From South African Coal Mine Blast Rises To 18

SA Minister Assures Foreign Nationals Of Halted Attacks

 

The death toll from a gas explosion that occurred at disused South African coal mine on February 3 rose to 18 after rescuers recovered 13 more bodies, police said Friday. 

The disaster occurred at Gloria coal mine, located near the town of Middelburg in the eastern province of Mpumalanga.

More than 20 people went into the mine, reputedly to steal copper cables.

Michael Elliott, who is coordinating the rescue operations, told AFP said four bodies were initially brought out shortly after the explosion, and a fifth fatality died in hospital.

Last week rescuers discovered seven bodies but failed to pull them out due to dangerous levels of methane gas.

On Friday they went back underground and came out with 13 bodies.

READ ALSO: Protests In Algeria As President Announces Fifth Term Re-Election Bid

“Today’s retrieval brings the total number of bodies brought to the surface to 18 thus far,” police spokesman Leonard Hlathi said in a statement.

“These are bodies of people who … went into a mine shaft where they allegedly intended to steal copper cables,” police spokesman Leonard Hlathi.

He said another group forced its way into the mine appears to rescue the trapped people, but “suffered the same fate”.

Elliot said another nine are believed to be still inside the mine, according to information gathered from the local community.

AFP

South African Coal Mine Death Toll Climbs To 12

Mob Burns Nigerian To Death In South Africa

 

Rescuers at a disused South African coal mine found seven more bodies on Thursday after five were retrieved last week following a gas explosion, a mine rescue official said.

At least 20 people last week went into the Gloria coal mine, located near the town of Middelburg in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, to allegedly steal copper cables.

“Today we identified the positions of another seven bodies underground,” Michael Elliott, who is coordinating the rescue operations, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Thousands Protest Against Job Losses In South Africa

“But we have not brought these seven people out” due to lack of ventilation and wet weather, he said.

Rainy weather made it difficult to erect fans to suck out dangerous levels of methane, he explained.

About half of South African coal mining is done underground with the rest produced by open-cast methods, according to government figures.

AFP