South Africa Disaster in a Gold Mine

Some 2,400 miners were on the day shift last Tuesday morning at the Kinross gold mine, 65 miles from Johannesburg. A welding team was repairing a broken track for one of the trains that help carry gold ore to the surface. Suddenly, an acetylene tank sparked and flared. Flames swept through the tunnel, igniting plastic-covered wiring, which in turn set fire to polyurethane foam that keeps the walls dry and solid. Within minutes the mine shaft filled with thick black smoke containing toxic fumes from the burning plastic. Choking miners immediately fell and died of asphyxiation. When the initial 9 1/2-hour...

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