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Illegal miners 'holed up in shaft'

Several illegal miners are still believed to be holed up underground in an abandoned mine shaft near Johannesburg after 22 others were rescued and arrested, South African police said today.

Police said the miners, who are all foreigners, were found on Sunday when officers patrolling the area heard screaming from the abandoned mine.

According to rescue workers, the men were apparently trapped underground when a rival group threw boulders down the open mine shaft.

Emergency workers said today that some of the miners who were working illegally were reluctant to come out of the shaft because they feared arrest.

Penalties for illegal mining include fines and jail sentences in some cases.

Illegal mining is common in South Africa, a major producer of gold and platinum.

AP

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