A helicopter crash in Indonesia killed nine people including two Australians and two South Africans employed by Melbourne-based Newcrest Mining, the company said yesterday.
Local officials said the toll climbed to 10 when an Indonesian man found alive in the wreckage subsequently died of his injuries.
Six Indonesians and four foreigners were on board the chopper when it went down in heavy rain on Wednesday afternoon shortly after taking off from Manado on Sulawesi island, local officials said.
“The helicopter crashed in a mountainous area and it was raining when the accident happened,” transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.
Search and rescue workers discovered the badly damaged wreckage in dense forest about 10km from Manado in North Sulawesi Province.
The Bell 412 aircraft was flying to Newcrest’s Gosowong mine on the island of Halmahera, some 2,400km northeast of the capital Jakarta, Australia’s largest gold producer said.
The helicopter was chartered by PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals, a joint venture between Newcrest Mining and Indonesian company PT Aneka Tambang. Newcrest said the cause of the crash was not yet known.
“There were 10 people on board the helicopter, which was transporting eight employees and contractors to the mine and there were two crew,” Newcrest said.
A spokeswoman for the Australian foreign ministry confirmed that two Australians and two South Africans were among the dead, contradicting local officials who insisted all four foreign victims were Australians.
Senior executives were en route to Manado, along with PT Halmahera Minerals director Iwan Irawan, with work at the Gosowong mine suspended, added the company, one of the world’s lowest-cost gold producers.
“Newcrest and Aneka Tambang express their deepest sadness and condolences to family, colleagues and friends of the passengers over this tragic event,” Newcrest chief executive Greg Robinson said.
The company said no senior executives were among the dead.