18 January 2006

South African diamond diver crushed by rock

A diamond diver at Alexander Bay in the Northern Cape died an underwater death after a rock with a five metre diameter fell on him.

Mr Derrick du Plooy, 42, apparently from the Cape Peninsula or the West Coast, died at approximately 17:00 Thursday when the huge rock fell on him about five metres below the surface.

Capt DR Cloete, police spokesperson for the Namaqualand region, said the incident took place in the harbour area of the Alexkor mine.

"Du Plooy was in the process of pumping diamondiferous gravel underwater.

"He was a commercial diver for the company Wealth for You, and also a contract worker at the mine.

"He was working by himself at the time of the incident," Cloete said.

The Alexander Bay police have opened a docket for a judicial inquiry.

According to Cloete a post mortem will be held Monday to establish the exact cause of death.

A mining contractor - who preferred to remain anonymous out of fear for victimisation - told Die Burger Friday that accidents such as the one in which Du Plooy died, could be prevented if the big diamond companies did not place such tremendous pressure on the mining contractors to deliver a certain volume of diamonds every month.

"This results in the small mining contractors pushing their workers to work under dangerous circumstances.

"In just the past three years three divers died in the region as a result of the tremendous pressure on mining contractors," the person said.

Mr Craig Matthews, company secretary of Alexkor, said on Friday evening the incident was being investigated presently by the department of minerals and energy.

"Alexkor will issue a statement as soon as the department's investigation has been completed," he said.

Source: www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News


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