The death toll from a fire at an abandoned South African gold mine rose to at least 61 on Tuesday, making it the country's worst such disaster in recent memory at an illicit mine.

The fire has raged for days at the mine, owned by Harmony Gold Mining Co., in the central Free State province whose many disused mines hold enough deposits to attract illegal mining syndicates.

South Africa's energy minister said on Thursday the country was still in the grip of a major power crisis despite being able to keep the lights on since a series of blackouts early last year.

Voluntary energy savings had failed to meet the required levels, and the country was risking new power cuts, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Buyelwa Sonjica said in a statement.