One man, believed to be an illegal miner, has died after an explosion at the shuttered Gloria Coal Mine in Mpumalanga.
The police's Brigadier Leornard Hlathi says another man, also believed to be an illegal miner, has been retrieved and is well.
The Middelburg Observer reported on Wednesday that a group of 22 people, believed to be Lesotho nationals, were trapped
The publication reported that around 42 people had allegedly gone underground in an attempt to steal cables, when a gas explosion occurred.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hlathi said: "Two people were retrieved, unfortunately one is deceased."
Hlathi said the total number of illegal miners trapped underground was unclear, adding that the police were told that one group of people went down on Sunday and another on Monday.
The mining operation was placed under business rescue in February 2018.
Earlier, the Department of Mineral Resources told News24 that inspectors were on their way to the mine and that it was in contact with Mine Rescue Services about assisting.
A search-and-rescue operation was reportedly under way at the shaft.