Emergency workers were searching for one last missing gold miner after freeing 36 others in a frantically working night.  

More than 100 rescue workers, including volunteers, worked around the clock, digging through the fallen rock, to save the miners.

Survivors rescued

One miner from a group of 38 was killed when the quake hit and trapped them in a rockburst more than 2km underground at the DRDGold mine in Stilfontein.

"All of the injured people have been brought to the surface and taken to a hospital, including the three most seriously injured miners," said DRDGold spokeswoman Annelie Coleman.

The 5.3 magnitude earthquake 
trapped workers in the gold mine

"One person is still missing. Prototeams are underground searching for him," she said. "The body of the deceased employee is also still underground."

The quake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale hit central South Arica at 12.15pm (1015 GMT) on Wednesday.

Its epicentre is thought to have been at Klerksdorp, about 160km southwest of Johannesburg.

Ian Saunders from the South African National Seismograph Network in Pretoria said a quake of this magnitude was "quite serious" for South Africa, a country not known for major earthquakes.

A total of 38 people were slightly injured in the towns of Klerksdorp and Stilfontein, which have a combined population of 500,000 people, most of them suffering from cuts and bruises.

Several buildings were also damaged, with many shop windows broken.