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Collapse of unlicensed gold mine in Indonesia buries dozens

27 February 2019

Dozens of people have been buried by a landslide at an unlicensed goldmine in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province, the national disaster agency has said.

"It is estimated that 43 people are still buried", he said.

But small artisanal, often unauthorized mining is on the rise in many parts of Asia and Africa: a study by a task force, the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development found the number of people engaged in such mining had risen to over 40 million, up from 30 million in 2014 and 6 million in 1993.

Landslides, flooding and collapses of tunnels are just some of the hazards in such mining.

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Images from the scene showed rescue teams and local people working through the night to carry survivors off a mud-covered hillside.

Rescuers said they could hear the voices of those trapped in makeshift mining shafts in the Bolaang Mongondow area of North Sulawesi province.

Indonesian officials said on Wednesday dozens of rescuers were using spades and ropes to dig out those still buried.

One person was killed in the incident, the country's disaster agency said, after the landslide was triggered on Tuesday evening.

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There are still fears of further landslides as the ground continues to shift and slide, Paputungan said.

Search-and-rescue teams and military officers were working together but using simple tools such as spades and rope because conditions remained unsafe, with the land still prone to shifting and sliding.

The families of the victims have started gathering at the mine to wait for news.

Indonesia accounts for about 3 percent of world gold production.

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The Indonesian government has banned such small-scale gold mining, but regional authorities often turn a blind eye in more remote areas.

Collapse of unlicensed gold mine in Indonesia buries dozens