BSP-58 Dozens buried in Indonesia gold mine collapse

385

ZCZC

BSP-58

INDONESIA-MINING-DISASTER

Dozens buried in Indonesia gold mine collapse

NORTH SULAWESI, Indonesia, Feb 27, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Indonesian rescuers
scrambled Wednesday to find dozens buried in the collapse of an illegal gold
mine that killed at least four people, the disaster agency said.

The effort to save survivors at the remote site on Sulawesi island was
hampered by steep terrain and unstable soil conditions after the collapse
triggered a landslide Tuesday evening, it said.

Four people have been found dead while 19 others were pulled from the
rubble alive on Wednesday with minor and serious injuries, according to
officials.

“Dozens of people were mining for gold at this location when suddenly
beams and supporting boards broke due to unstable soil conditions,” said
disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

More than three dozen people may still be trapped at the site in the
Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi, where some five miners were
killed in December after an illegal gold mine accident.

The mineral-rich Southeast Asian nation has scores of unlicensed mining
sites and safety regulations are routinely flouted.

Some of the still-buried victims were responding to rescuers’ calls but it
was not clear how many were still alive.

Ground conditions at the mine were unstable due to the large number of
holes dug by the miners, officials said.

“We still have hope. When we called them they still responded from down
there, asking for help,” local disaster agency official Abdul Muin Paputungan
said.

“We can’t use heavy machinery because the location is very steep… it
could endanger the victims,” Paputungan said.

Rescuers were trying to get water to the buried miners but feared a wrong
move could make the situation worse.

“There are a lot of challenges because the rocks that fell are in a very
dangerous position,” Paputungan said.

“We’re trying to be extra careful.”

Local hospital chief Wahdiana Mantang said nine patients had been released
after the accident and several others were being treated for injuries.

“They’re suffering from lacerations, gashes and some have broken bones,”
she added.

Environmentalists called on local officials to enforce regulations and
safety measures in response to the accident.

“We predicted this was going to happen,” said Theo Runtuwene, a local
director for the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.

“The area is mountainous and (miners) dug holes there, which is extremely
risky… There are dozens of sites in North Sulawesi where the ground is very
unstable, especially during the rainy season,” he added.

In 2016, 11 miners died after a mudslide engulfed an illegal gold mine in
Sumatra’s Jambi province.

A year earlier, 12 people were killed when a shaft collapsed after they
tunnelled into a disused gold mine on Java island.

BSS/AFP/BZC/1930HRS