The 5.3 magnitude earthquake that hit the gold mining town of Orkney on Tuesday claimed one life and injured seventeen employees at AngloGold Ashanti’s Vaal River mines in North West.

ER24 spokesperson, Russell Meiring, tells Mining News that emergency personnel found one person had sustained fatal injuries after a wall of an old mining house in Orkney had collapsed on him.

“Unfortunately the man sustained very serious injuries. This was the only fatality that ER24 personnel came across in Orkney,” said Meiring.

He says that the emergency workers treated numerous other people injured in the earthquake, however, none of these required transportation to hospital.

8 km depth quake

In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti spokesperson, Chris Nthite, said that the 5.3 quake occurred at its Vaal River operations at a depth of roughly 8 km.

“Early indications are that 17 of our employees at the Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines sustained minor injuries and are being attended to on site by emergency medical staff,” said Nthite.

Power interrupted

Anglogold said that power at its Vaal River operations were temporarily interrupted, but this has since been mostly restored, with mining engineers clearing shafts at the Orkney mine sites.

“Our priority is the safe passage of our employees from underground. Engineers are inspecting shaft infrastructure, and at those shafts where this work is complete, hoisting of people to surface has already begun,” said Nthite on Tuesday.

Quake tremors

The epicentre of the earthquake in Orkney in the North West Province resulted in tremors felt as far away as Botswana and Mozambique, according to media reports.

Residents of the east rand and south of Johannesburg felt the tremors, and reports suggest that residents as far as 600 km away in Bloemfontein and Durban also were affected by the Orkney quake.

The earthquake shook buildings and rattling pictures and windows, resulting in some buildings being evacuated.

Damage to homes

Numerous residential and public buildings in Orkney were affected by the quake, which also forced multiple evacuations in the area.

North West premier Supra Mahumapelo told media in Orkney that at least 400 houses have been damaged by Tuesday’s earthquake.

Hardest hit

The earthquake was felt in most parts of the country, with Mahumapelo saying that other parts of the North West were also affected, but the township of Khuma in Orkney was the hardest hit.

Mahumapelo said it was the responsibility of government to assist those affected.

“I have spoken to the Matlousana municipality along with the provincial departments of safety, local government and finances to see how best the people can be assisted,” said the premier.