Dozens of people have been buried alive after a landslide at an illegal gold mine on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Indonesia’s disaster agency says at least thee people are dead and more than 60 are thought to be buried after the mine collapse overnight on Tuesday.
At least 15 people have been rescued from the landslide by workers and villagers working on the muddy hillside.
Rescuers said they could hear the voices of those trapped in makeshift mining shafts in the Bolaang Mongondow area of North Sulawesi province.
Many victims are thought to still be alive.
“When dozens of people were mining for gold at the location, suddenly beams and supporting boards they used broke due to unstable land and numerous mining shafts,” disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
An illegal gold mining pit in Bolaang Mongondow, N. Sulawesi collapsed at 9 pm last night. 14 have been evacuated, one confirmed dead and 13 injured. It is feared that there could be at least 36 more still trapped inside the pit. Photo: BNPB pic.twitter.com/eq58VWp70I— Nuice Media (@nuicemedia) February 27, 2019
Search-and-rescue teams and military officers were working together. They could use only simple tools such as spades and rope because conditions remained dangerous, with the land still prone to shifting and sliding.
The cause of the landslide remains unclear.
The central Indonesian government has banned such small-scale gold mining, although regional authorities often turn a blind eye to the practice in remote areas. With little regulation, the mines are prone to accidents.