NEWS

Miner Found Dead, Falling Rocks Suspected

A Vatukoula Gold Mines shift supervisor was killed reportedly when two large rocks, believed to have been loosened by explosives, hurtled down upon him while at work on Wednesday night.
07 Apr 2017 10:52
Miner Found Dead, Falling Rocks Suspected
Family of the late Tekiata Teuongo Teirei, (back - from left), son Itaia, wife Kaiea, daughter in law Atirutaka. Front, from left: Grandson Teangariki, son Remueru, daughter Tibwebwe and grandson Jackie (front). Photo: Charles Chambers INSET: Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited shift supervisor Tekiata Teuongo Teirei who was killed in the Smith Shaft on April 5, 2017. Photo: Tibwebwe Teirei

A Vatukoula Gold Mines shift supervisor was killed reportedly when two large rocks, believed to have been loosened by explosives, hurtled down upon him while at work on Wednesday night.

Tekiata Teuongo Teirei, 51, was believed to have died after the rocks crashed into his back, smashing his backbone and spinal cord.

He was on the afternoon shift, which is from 3pm to 11pm and was near knock-off time when the incident was believed to have happened.

It is believed a fellow miner saw Mr Teirei lying motionless on the ground in the Smith Shaft, which is around 1700ft below the surface.

His wife, Kaiea Teirei, 51, was at home with her grandchildren after 11pm when one of them woke her saying some men from the mine had arrived outside their house.

“My grandson said to me – they’re saying something about grandpa,” a tearful Mrs Teirei said.

Yesterday, her wailing could be heard inside the mortuary at Tavua Hospital as she went to see the body of her dead husband with her three children and a grandson.

“After the workers brought the news, I sat at home and cried all night as my children were all in Suva and I had no-one to share my grief with,” she said.

“He was a good man and everyone knew his generosity and the time he had to help others.

“I would tell him sometimes not to go when people called, but he always told me that he would reap the blessings through his assisting others.”

The management of Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited confirmed that a fatality happened in an area of their underground mining workings at Smith Shaft.

Mr Teirei’s children, Itaia, 32, who works at the University of the South Pacific Library in Suva, Temueru Tekiata, 26, a Ba national soccer representative, and daughter Tibwebwe, 28, a bank officer with BSP in Suva, were all at home in Vatukoula yesterday.

Itaia Teirei said his father was a wonderful and humble person with a big heart who never said no when someone needed help.

Meanwhile a Press Release from Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited said investigations were underway by the Police, the Mineral Resources Department and the company into the cause of the incident.

General Manager Lingquan Kong said: “Until such time as officials have completed their investigations and released their findings, we regret that we are not in a position to confirm the circumstances.

“We have lost a valued and respected member of our team and we mourn with the family”.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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