Nine employees are unaccounted for after an underground fire broke out at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop gold mine, where operations have been suspended.

Eight employees are currently in the refuge bay and have been contacted, but “efforts continue to reach these employees and to establish the whereabouts of a further nine employees who are currently unaccounted for,” the company said in a statement.

The fire was reported to have occurred in a stope adjacent to 192 level haulage (some 1 733 m underground) at around 18:00 on Tuesday, 4 February 2014. Rescue teams were immediately dispatched underground, but access to the affected area is being hampered by smoke and a subsequent fall of ground.