JAKARTA (AFP) – One person was killed and dozens more were buried in the collapse of an illegal gold mine in Indonesia, the country’s disaster agency said Wednesday.
Rescuers on the island of Sulawesi scrambled to find survivors in the rubble after the collapse triggered a landslide on Tuesday evening, the agency said.
At least one person had been found dead and 15 others were injured in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi, a statement said.
“When dozens of people were mining for gold at this location, suddenly beams and supporting boards broke due to unstable soil conditions,” said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
“It is estimated that as many as 60 people are buried under the landslide.”
Officials said on Wednesday morning the victims were still responding to rescuers’ calls but it was not clear how many were still alive.
Efforts to evacuate the victims were being hampered by unstable ground conditions due to the number of holes dug by the miners.
“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.
Efforts to evacuate the victims are hampered by the ground unstable condition due to the number of holes dug by the miners.
“We can’t use heavy machinery because the location is very steep … it could endanger the victims,” Paputungan said.
The country has numerous unlicensed gold mining sites subject to few if any safety regulations.
In 2016, 11 Indonesian miners died after a mudslide engulfed an illegal gold mine in Jambi province.
Twelve people were killed in October 2015 when a shaft collapsed after they tunnelled into a disused mine on Java island looking for finding gold.