The death toll has risen to 12, in the recent South African coal mine diaster, seven more bodies on Thursday after five were retrieved last week , a mine rescue official said.
At least 20 people last week went into the Gloria coal mine, located near the town of Middelburg in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, to allegedly steal copper cables.
“Today we identified the positions of another seven bodies underground,” Michael Elliott, who is coordinating the rescue operations, told AFP.
“But we have not brought these seven people out” due to lack of ventilation and wet weather, he said.
Rainy weather made it difficult to erect fans to suck out dangerous levels of methane, he explained.
About half of South African coal mining is done underground with the rest produced by open-cast methods, according to government figures.