No signs of life as search goes on week after Indonesia mine collapse

Rescue workers have detected no signs of life as the search continued for dozens of people still buried after last week’s collapse of an unlicensed gold mine in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, an official said Tuesday.  

Scores of miners were buried after a wooden platform they were using at the mine in Bolaang Mongondow district collapsed on February 26 due to unstable soil, officials said.

Searchers found four more bodies and body parts on Monday, bringing the confirmed death toll to at least 13, said Ferry Arianto, spokesman for the provincial search and rescue agency.

Twenty miners were rescued, but two of them died later, he said. It was not clear how many were still buried, with estimates ranging from 30 to 70. 

“We used a life sensor but there were no signs that any victims were still alive,” he said.  

“Only 20 families have so far come forward, because the workers came from outside the area and they didn’t know each other,”      

Deadly accidents in artisanal gold mines are not uncommon in Indonesia.  

There are at least 1,000 such mines across the archipelago, according the Indonesian People’s Mining Association.  

The United Nations Environmental Programme says artisanal and small-scale miners make up 90 per cent of the global gold mine workforce of about 15 million people.

Artisanal miners often work under dangerous conditions, with exposure to mercury used to extract gold from ore among the hazards, the UN said.  

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