A cave in at a gold mine in South Africa occurred on Friday afternoon, and while initial reports were unconfirmed at the time of this posting, it appeared that 87 miners retreated safely from the mine while three were unaccounted for.
Reuters reported that the collapse occured at the mine's main entrance of a mine owned by Vantage Goldfields.
"As we speak they might already all be out. Most have been evacuated," Mike McChesney, chief executive of the small gold producer told Reuters by telephone from the mine in Barbeton town in Mpumalanga province about 360 km (225 miles) east of Johannesburg.
McChesney and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union initially said 115 workers had been trapped.
South Africa's mines are the deepest and among the most dangerous in the world. Fatalities in the industry have been falling due to both improved safety practices and a reduction in the labor force as production declines.
Vantage Goldfields is an Australia-based company mining gold at Barberton, a town that traces its origin in the country's 19th century gold rush. Vantage was delisted from the Australian bourse in January 2015.
The mine workers union later said 78 workers had been rescued and three workers were missing. The reason for the discrepancy between the union's figures and the company's was not immediately clear.
"At this point, it’s unclear what caused the disaster," Manzini Zungu, a spokesman for the union said.
Last year, 77 workers were killed in mining accidents, the lowest number on record, compared with 84 in 2014.