Sat, Mar 02, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Eight dead in Indonesian mine collapse

SEARCH AND RESCUE:Families of the trapped miners have agreed to allow the use of heavy equipment to dig for survivors three days after the disaster on Sulawesi Island


Members of a search-and-rescue team on Thursday work on the site after a mine collapsed on Tuesday in Bolaang Mongondow, Indonesia.

Photo: AFP

Rescuers at a collapsed Indonesian gold mine yesterday brought in a heavy excavator to the perilous site as they ramped up efforts to reach more than 30 miners still trapped underground.

Search teams had been forced to use spades and even bare hands following the collapse at the remote site on Sulawesi Island that has killed at least eight people, fearing that a wrong move involving heavy equipment could make the situation worse.

However, three days after the Tuesday night collapse, authorities said they had decided to use an excavator to haul away debris, as they try to get food and water to the miners believed to still be alive.

“We were afraid to use it because it might trigger another landslide or send debris tumbling onto the trapped miners,” local disaster official Abdul Muin Paputungan said.

“But now we’ve got the permission from their family members to use it, despite the risks,” he added.

More than three dozen people are believed to be trapped at the mine.

Rescuers have communicated with a handful of victims who have cried for help from the depths of the mine.

The disaster agency said that the death toll rose to eight yesterday, but offered no details on the latest victim.

A miner died of blood loss on Thursday after his leg, pinned under rock, was amputated at the scene.

Army and disaster agency personnel have relied on ropes to navigate the steep, muddy area as survivors were carried away in makeshift stretchers to waiting vehicles.

About 20 people have been hauled out of the mine alive since the accident, including the amputee who later died.

Victims have been treated for cuts and broken bones at a local hospital in the Bolaang Mongondow region of North Sulawesi Province, where five miners were killed in December last year after an illegal gold mine accident.

The mineral-rich nation has scores of unlicensed mining sites and safety regulations are routinely flouted. This week’s accident happened when support beams at the unlicensed site collapsed, the disaster agency said.

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