South African miners may be trapped underground and one person died after an earthquake struck near the gold-mining town of Orkney, according to the national emergency service ER24.
The 5.3 magnitude earthquake centered 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the town in the country’s North West province, according to a statement on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. Medics are on their way to 11 shafts where there have been reports of possible entrapments, ER24 spokeswoman Luyanda Majija said by phone from Johannesburg.
Tremors were felt in Johannesburg and Pretoria in Gauteng province, Bloemfontein in the Free State and in coastal KwaZulu-Natal shortly after 12 p.m. today. Schools in Orkney were damaged and evacuated, while mining companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. are taking safety precautions, according to Tommy Deysel, fire chief for the nearby city of Matlosana.
A deceased 31 year-old male was found beneath some rubble after the earthquake, Majija said by phone. “Bystanders said a structure collapsed on him.” No further causalities have been reported.
“It would be one of the biggest tremors in South Africa,” Dr Musa Manzi, geophysicist at Wits University in Johannesburg, said by phone. “The best bet is it could have been caused by mining activity in the region.”
Copyright 2014 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.