“I was hungry, though we were all hungry,” said Thibile, 32, an engineering assistant who had been underground since early Wednesday morning. He was given a cold beef sandwich and a bottle of water when he reached the surface. “Most of the people are scared, and we also have some women miners there underground,” he said. One large group emerged from the shaft singing traditional songs and stamping their feet with joy despite their exhaustion. They were greeted by a crowd of ululating female miners. Relatives had complained that they had not been given enough information about their loved ones. “I am very traumatized, exhausted, not knowing what is going on,” said Sam Ramohanoe, whose wife was among those trapped. “It is very unfair to us, not knowing what is going on with our beloved ones.” Officials had hoped to rescue all the miners by lunchtime, but it ended up taking hours longer. The mine owner and South Africa’s minerals and energy minister vowed to improve safety in one of the country’s most important industries after the accident prompted allegations that the industry cut safety corners and didn’t properly maintain the mine. The union threatened to strike if its safety demands were not met. Amelia Soares, spokeswoman for Harmony, said the mine had won a number of safety awards and had never seen any fatal accidents. She said the company was likely to suffer considerable losses in output during the closure. “We have to recommit ourselves to refocus on safety in this country; our safety record both as a company and an industry leave much to be desired,” Harmony chairman Patrice Motsepe said, according to the South African Press Association.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ACCIDENT: No casualties reported, but many who were stranded a mile underground are exhausted and angry. By Michelle Faul THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CARLETONVILLE, South Africa – The last of 3,200 gold miners trapped for more than 24 hours in a deep shaft were brought safely to the surface Thursday night, ending one of South Africa’s biggest rescue operations, mining officials said. The final workers emerged just after 9 p.m., singing and dancing, according to the Harmony Gold Mining Co. No casualties were reported. A pressurized air pipe snapped at the mine near Johannesburg and tumbled down a shaft Wednesday, causing extensive damage to an elevator and stranding the miners. The joyful reunions were mixed with anger, fear and renewed concern about safety standards in a country that is the world’s largest gold miner. The miners were brought to the surface in a smaller cage in another shaft that can hold about 75 miners at a time. Most who emerged into the blinding sunlight looked dazed and exhausted. “We nearly died down there,” one man yelled as he walked past reporters. “I’d rather leave (the job) than die in the mine.” Sethiri Thibile, who was in the first batch of miners to be rescued about 19 hours after the accident, said there was no food or water in the mine.