550 tons of rock moved in bid to save trapped Lily miners, but there has been 20 hours of silence
At 08:40 on Wednesday morning it was exactly five full days since disaster struck at Lily Mine in Louisville, near Barberton in Mpumalanga.
For the past 120-plus hours, rescue teams have been working non-stop to get to the last three mineworkers that remain trapped in a metal container which the mine used as a lamp room.
Christo de Klerk, Mine Rescue Services chief executive, said rescue teams had moved 550 tons of rock and debris on Tuesday, "but failed to get any sign of the lamp room".
The teams say the last time they made contact with the workers was at 13:00 on Tuesday. Since then, there's been only silence from the container.
Tents were erected on the site outside the gate late on Tuesday.
No audio signals have been received in the past 20 hours from mine workers.
According to Amcu Mpumalanga regional secretary, John Sibiya, the situation has been the same since Tuesday with no communication between the trapped miners and rescue workers.
Hopes rose on Monday when it was revealed that tapping had been heard from where the missing miners are believed to be trapped.
Two women, Yvonne Mnisi and Pretty Mabuza as well as one man, Solomon Nyarenda, remain trapped in a metal container underground. The three were in the lamp room, which was housed in the container, when a central pillar of ore, called a crown pillar, collapsed on Friday. The container was swallowed up in a sink hole as big as a rugby field.
Family members of Pretty Mabuza, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyarenda have been gathering at the mine, waiting for news. Residents of Louisville came to offer support.
Late on Tuesday, operations director Mike Begg said they were still between 15 and 12 metres away from the container.
Seventy-six miners were rescued.
Dynamite will be used to remove heavy rocks blocking the path of rescue workers.