March 1, 2019 1:09 am
Updated: March 1, 2019 1:45 am

Miner dies after leg amputated amid rescue from collapsed gold site in Indonesia

A grueling search and rescue effort has saved 19 people from the debris of a collapsed illegal gold mine in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province but officials said on Wednesday that several dozen remain trapped.

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Indonesian authorities had to amputate the leg of a victim trapped under rubble to pull him out of a collapsed gold mine on Sulawesi island, as the slow and harrowing rescue operation entered its third day on Friday.

But the miner, trapped with dozens of others at the illegal mining site on a muddy hillside in Bolaang Mongondow area of North Sulawesi province, later died of his injuries, the national disaster mitigation said in a statement.

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“Rescuers were forced to amputate the victim’s leg because it was stuck under a rock, and they were afraid that moving the rock would cause a further collapse,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the disaster agency, said in a statement.

Eight people have died in the accident and dozens more remain stuck under rocks and beams, authorities said. Rescue workers using simple tools and rope have pulled out 20 heavily injured miners so far but hopes are fading of finding further survivors.

“According to the assessment we did yesterday, we are not hearing voices anymore from the mining shafts,” Abdul Muin Paputungan of the local disaster agency said by phone.

The seven-day rescue operation is set to last at least until next Tuesday, with more than 200 rescue and military personnel helping to pull survivors and bodies out of several mine shafts.

“Conditions in the field are trying, with steep slopes…and a danger of further landslides,” Nugroho said.

The Indonesian government has banned such small-scale gold mining projects, although regional authorities often turn a blind eye to the practice in more remote areas. With little regulation, such mines are prone to accidents.

READ MORE: 1 dead, dozens feared buried in landslide at illegal gold mine in Indonesia

© 2019 Thomson Reuters

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