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All of the trapped miners rescued from South Africa mine

By Radina Gigova, CNN
updated 6:26 AM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some of the the trapped miners refused to come out
  • Miners were working in a long-abandoned gold mine illegally, authorities say

(CNN) -- Six miners who refused to come out of an illegal gold mine in South Africa have been rescued, rescuers from ER24 emergency medical service told CNN on Tuesday.

With their rescue, no miners remain trapped inside the abandoned gold mine in Benoni, just outside Johannesburg.

Several miners said they were trapped on Saturday, and the rescue effort began on Sunday.

Some miners surfaced. But a handful of others still underground refused to come out because they feared being arrested, the rescuers said.

Authorities talked to them Sunday and Monday to try to convince them to come up.

The six were the last to surface.

Initially ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said that a rockslide trapped the miners. But Govan Whittles, a reporter for South Africa Eyewitness News at the scene, said the miners told rescuers that a rival group dropped boulders down the shaft to trap them.

Police looking for illegal dumping heard the men crying for help.

Gold-rich South Africa has repeatedly warned its citizens against trying to dig into old mines. Illegal mining "poses a danger not only to the miners themselves, but to the communities, as well as the economy and existing mines," Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said in September.

South Africa's Parliament has discussed legalizing the illegal mines to allow the miners to earn a living, but the cost of bringing the mines up to modern safety codes could be prohibitive.

More miners were freed Monday after being trapped for two days in an illegal gold mine in South Africa, authorities said.

After some miners surfaced, authorities said a total of 24 had been freed, according to rescuers from ER24 emergency medical service. The miners said they were trapped on Saturday, and the rescue effort began on Sunday.

But a handful of others still underground were refusing to come out because they feared being arrested, the rescuers said.

One miner was trying to persuade the approximately six miners who were still underground to come up, ER24 said.

READ: Eight bodies found after South Africa gold mine fire

READ: 10 killed, 2 rescued in China coal mine flooding

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