SANDF arrives at site where boy is trapped down mineshaft

The Oryx helicopter lands during a visit by representatives of the SANDF to see if they are able to help with the rescue of a child that fell down this mineshaft near Witfield in Ekurhuleni, 2 March 2017. Picture: Neil McCartney

The Oryx helicopter lands during a visit by representatives of the SANDF to see if they are able to help with the rescue of a child that fell down this mineshaft near Witfield in Ekurhuleni, 2 March 2017. Picture: Neil McCartney

SANDF was given both an off-site briefing – to discuss the technical aspects – and an on-site visit.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Thursday answered Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina’s call to help rescue a boy trapped in a mine shaft.

The unit is now compiling a report in a bid for an informed decision to be made.

“The competence of the state had to rise, so that we can make an informed decision,” Masina said.

Efforts to rescue the five-year-old boy began on Saturday afternoon following his fall into the mine shaft in the Jerusalem informal settlement near Witfield in Ekurhuleni.

Following rock falls and a challenge of oxygen deficiency from a depth of 36m, rescue efforts were suspended on Wednesday afternoon.

“Among the things we did, I wrote to the defence minister because of the report presented to us,” Masina said.

“They needed additional capacity in terms of experts, because in the defence, they have got all sorts of expertise on-site.”

He said the SANDF was responsible for safety in the country.

On Thursday, the SANDF was given both an off-site briefing – to discuss the technical aspects – and an on-site visit.

READ MORE: Ekurhuleni mayor calls on army to help rescue boy trapped in mine

Also in attendance at the briefing was Mine Rescue Services, the mineral resources department, the provincial disaster management centre, DRD Gold and the City of Ekurhuleni.

During the visual assessment on-site, Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services spokesperson William Ntladi said Mine Rescue Services CEO Christo de Klerk detailed the challenges confronting the rescue technicians at the site during the rescue efforts.

Ntladi said these included rock falls, unstable ground, oxygen deficiency from a depth of 36m, gas emissions from the acid mine water and the depth of the decline shaft.

Colonel William Bucibe of SANDF health services said: “We came through, we had a brief of the situation by the specialist of the mine and were taken on site. We went to view on site of what could have happened and assessed that. Now we are going back so that we can go and compile a report.”

Masina hoped the report would be completed for a decision to be made by Monday, at the latest.

Meanwhile, the City of Ekurhuleni will begin counselling and related services to the family of the boy.

“It’s clear that if we find the body, it is unlikely the child will be alive,” Masina said.

Caxton News Service

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