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WESTONARIA, SOUTH AFRICA — A fire broke out at a gold mine in the northern region of South Africa on late Saturday, killing five miners and injuring more than a dozen others, officials said on Sunday. A union accused its owner of negligence.
Gold mining firm Gold Fields, one of the world's largest, said five of its employees were killed when a fire broke out at the Kloof and Driefontein (KDC) West mine in Carletonville, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Johannesburg. It released no other details about the incident.
"The identities of the deceased are being withheld until their next of kin have been informed," Gold Fields spokesperson Sharda Naidoo said. "Fourteen people have been admitted to hospital for routine observation and appear to be in a stable condition at this stage. Management deeply regrets the incident and has launched a full investigation."
While Gold Fields released no other details, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) accused the firm of negligence. "We strongly condemn the company for sending workers on overtime night shift when there is no ventilation," said Frans Baleni, NUM's general secretary . "We call on the Department of Mineral Resources to take drastic measures against the company."
So far this year, more than 40 people have been killed as a result of mining accidents in South Africa, the union said.