An unlicensed gold mine in North Sulawesi province, Indonesia, buried dozens of people, a civilian on Wednesday said, as the emergency personnel dug their bare hands and farm implements as they desperately sought for victims to seek assistance under the rubble.
Local Disaster Officer Abdul Muin Paputungan said one person was declared dead and 14 people with injuries ranging from mild to severe injuries were rescued. 60 people were buried, he said.
"Unstable ground conditions make us extra cautious when it comes to lifting rocks, because this can lead to new landslides," Paputungan told archys. "We still hear voices screaming for help under the rubble," he said.
"Survivors estimate that about 60 people are trapped in the rubble of the mine pit," said Paputungan.
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On Tuesday night, provisional wooden structures collapsed in the mine in Bolaang Mongondow district due to unstable soils and the large number of mining holes that buried the people in the pit.
Informal mining operations are commonplace in Indonesia and provide a poor livelihood for thousands who work in conditions of high risk of serious injury or death.
Miners often dig their way with sparse supports directly into the hills, and children are often sent into the tunnels to dig and execute ore mined from rock faces.
Police, search and rescue workers, members of the military, and the Indonesian Red Cross all participated in the rescue operations, but the remote location made the operation difficult.
Paputungan said the mine and its associated village are located in a steep area that is only accessible by foot. Earthmoving equipment and ambulances can not reach the location, he said.
Indonesia accounts for about 3 percent of world gold production. Most of it comes from the Grasberg Mine in Papua Province, which is said to be the largest gold mine in the world, with $ 40 billion in reserves and up to 20,000 workers.
In many parts of Asia and Africa, however, the manual, often unauthorized mining is increasing. In a study by a task force of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, it was found that the number of people working in this mining sector has increased more than 40 million, compared to 30 million in 2014 and 6 million in 1993 ,
Landslides, floods and collapses of tunnels are but a few of the pitfalls in such mining: Much of the gold ore processing requires the use of highly toxic mercury and cyanide by workers who require little or no protection.