JAKARTA – At least six people have been killed after an illegal gold mine collapsed in Indonesia’s Sulawesi island as emergency teams were on Thursday trying to rescue another 35 miners missing after the accident.
Authorities have rescued 19 miners since the collapse that took place on Tuesday, while the missing ones are feared to be buried under the debris in Bolaang Mongondow area of Indonesia’s northern province.
Abdul Muin Paputunga, the head of emergencies at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) for the area, told EFE that the rescuers have heard voices of at least three trapped miners from under the rubble, but it was proving difficult to rescue the victims as they were buried between rocks.
The accident took place in a Bolaang Mongondow mine after a landslide broke the poles and planks supporting the weight of the ground above, which had become unstable due to shifting soil and a high number of tunnels which had been dug.
More than 100 personnel of the security forces and BNPB are continuing rescue work in the hilly and forested area, where the nature of the terrain has complicated the race against the clock to find people alive.
The BNPB head told EFE that there were many obstacles in the process of reaching the victims such as the steep evacuation route and the fact that some miners had been crushed by rocks.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the disaster agency, said in a statement that more body bags were required urgently.
A brief video clip the spokesperson shared on his Twitter handle showed rescue workers and local residents carrying an orange color bag on a stretcher on a muddy hillside.
Illegal mining is a common phenomenon in Indonesia due to the lax attitude of the authorities and accidents occur frequently due to the lack of appropriate security measures.
In June 2018, six minors had been killed in the same area after being buried by a landslide in another illegal gold mine where they had been working amid rain.
Another seven miners died and five were hospitalized in the same month after inhaling toxic smoke from burning tires at an illegal gold mine on the Lombok Island.