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167 freed after day trapped in gold mine

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  • 167 miners stuck without food in gold mine in South Africa
  • Lightning blamed for underground fire that left men stranded
  • Six employees hospitalized for smoke inhalation
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(CNN) -- More than 160 miners were freed Sunday after 24 hours trapped more than a mile underground in a gold mine in South Africa, union officials told CNN.

All 167 miners were rescued from the Blyvoor No. 5 mine near Carletonville, where they had been stuck without food, said Lesiba Seshoka, a spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers told CNN.

They had become trapped Saturday evening when lightning struck the mine's lone transformer, sparking an underground fire and cutting power to the shaft, preventing the miners from making a normal exit, he said.

James Duncan, a spokesman for mine owners Drdgold, said in a posting on the company's Web site that the miners had ample air and water while trapped underground, and that telephone contact was maintained throughout.

The miners were freed when power was restored. Six employees were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and released.

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