In Brief

Indonesia mine collapse: race to rescue dozens trapped below ground

Excavators brought in despite landslide risk as miners enter fourth day in buried pit

Rescue workers in Indonesia are racing against time to reach dozens of miners who have been trapped underground for four days after an illegal gold mine collapsed.

The unauthorised pit, in the Bolaang Mongondow area of North Sulawesi province, caved in on Tuesday evening, burying dozens of workers inside. The collapse triggered a landslide, further hampering rescue efforts, the BBC reports.

At least eight miners have been confirmed to have died. A further 27 men have been rescued from the site but many have sustained serious injuries, officials said. One man was pulled out alive but died on the way to hospital.

Hope is now fading for the remaining survivors trapped underground - thought to number at least three dozen - as oxygen levels run low.

Until today, “search teams had been forced to use spades and even bare hands”, amid fears “that a wrong move involving heavy equipment could make the situation worse”, reports Paris-based news network France 24.

But with time running out, officials this morning authorised the use of excavators.

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

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

Yasti Soepredjo, head of the Bolaang Mongondow region, told the BBC that the unauthorised nature of the mine made it difficult to be sure how many people were still trapped inside.

"Based on statements from people who survived, the numbers are inconsistent. Some say there were more than 100 in the mine, some said about 80,” he said. “We are still in the dark when it comes to the actual number.”

“Resource-rich Indonesia has a patchy record on mining safety, particularly small-scale unlicensed mines,” reports Reuters.

Another illegal mine collapse in Sulawesi in December resulted in the deaths of five miners.

Recommended

Investing in Asia: what the experts think
Vietnam: ‘set for a big leap’
Expert’s view

Investing in Asia: what the experts think

What could happen if China tries to invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

What could happen if China tries to invade Taiwan?

Everything we know so far about the Tokyo ‘Joker’ knife attack
Emergency services arrive on the scene of the knife attack
Getting to grips with . . .

Everything we know so far about the Tokyo ‘Joker’ knife attack

Singapore hit by ‘mystery’ blip surge in Covid cases
Health workers take a nasal swab in Singapore
In Depth

Singapore hit by ‘mystery’ blip surge in Covid cases

Popular articles

Woman diagnosed with ‘climate change’
Humber Bay Arch Bridge in Toronto
Stranger than fiction

Woman diagnosed with ‘climate change’

Are we heading towards World War Three?
Vladimir Putin
In Depth

Are we heading towards World War Three?

Is Bosnia on the brink of war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of war?

The Week Footer Banner