February 27, 2019 – The collapse of an unlicensed gold mine in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province has buried dozens of people, disaster officials said today, as emergency personnel struggled to rescue victims in a remote location that’s inaccessible to heavy earth-moving equipment.
Local disaster official Abdul Muin Paputungan said one person is confirmed dead and at least 13 people with injuries ranging from light to serious have been rescued. Dozen could be buried, he said.
“It is estimated that as many as 60 people are buried under landslide and rock material,” he said in a statement released by the national disaster agency.
Makeshift wooden structures in the mine in Bolaang Mongondow district collapsed on Tuesday evening due to unstable soil and the large number of mining holes, burying people in the mine pit.
Informal mining operations are commonplace in Indonesia, providing a tenuous livelihood to thousands who labor in conditions with a high risk of serious injury or death.
Police, search and rescue agency workers, military and Indonesian Red Cross personnel are involved in the rescue effort but the operation is complicated by the remote locale.
Paputungan said the mine and a village connected to it are in a steep area that can only be reached by foot. Earth-moving equipment and ambulances can’t reach the location, he said.