Trapped South African Miners Rescued After Four Days

Rescuers tunneled through a wall of rock and dirt to save nine miners who were buried at the African Rainbow Minerals mine after a tremor caused the rocks to cave in Monday.

Rescuers in Orkney, South Africa tunneled through a wall of rock and dirt last night to save nine miners trapped for four days underneath more than a mile of earth and rock.

The miners -- including four who were killed -- were buried at the African Rainbow Minerals mine after a tremor caused the rocks to cave in Monday.

The nine survivors were in stable condition but headed to a nearby hospital about 110 miles southwest of Johannesburg for examination.

Hundreds die every year in South Africa in what are some of the world's deepest mines despite safety improvements since the end of white minority rule in 1994. In 1999, 312 workers died in mining accidents, according to the African government.

About 200 rescuers were working in eight-hour shifts to free the miners. After establishing contact through an air pipe Tuesday evening, the miners were sent water, a nutritional drink and fluorescent light tubes.

Two of the miners were too severely injured to move when the others made their way toward the main shaft. They have been without food or water since Monday because it was too difficult for the other workers to get it back to them.

Although the chances of survival are not favorable, rescuers are expected to work through the night to reach the two remaining miners, according to a mine spokesperson.

The Orkney mine, which dates from the 1950s, was the scene of one of the nation's worst mining accidents.

In 1995, a mine train fell into an elevator shaft on a carriage full of men, killing 104.

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