A landslide at an illegal gold mine in Indonesia buried dozens of people and left at least one person dead, a spokesman for the nation’s disaster management agency said on Wednesday.
Rescue workers were searching for survivors at the gold mine on the island of Sulawesi, in the area of Bolaang Mongondow, said the spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. He said on Twitter that one person was killed, 13 were injured and an unknown number remained buried.
“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,” Mr. Sutopo was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Mr. Sutopo tweeted photos of the rescue operations in the night, including workers in reflective gear and men with headlamps carrying injured people along a convoy of hands. In a video he later posted, workers gathered during the day at the edge of the landslide.
Illegal gold mining has been a problem in Indonesia for years, and dangers such as rock slides, mine collapses and mercury poisoning threaten the diggers. Pollution is another problem: Although industrial gold mining companies are forbidden to use mercury during processing, small-scale miners often use the toxic metal, which seeps into the environment.
Indonesia has suffered a string of disasters in recent months, including earthquakes, floods and, in December, a tsunami that killed more than 400 people. A few months before that, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the resort island of Lombok, killing more than 550 people, and a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Sulawesi, killing more than 2,100.
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