BOLAANG MONGONDOW, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers brought an excavator to the remote Indonesian gold mine that collapsed earlier this week, trapping dozens, hoping to speed up rescue efforts despite the risk of triggering landslides.
The death toll has risen to eight and 20 have been rescued, local disaster official Abdul Muin Paputungan said Friday. About three dozen people are still believed trapped in the rubble of the unlicensed mine in North Sulawesi’s Bolaang Mongondow district that collapsed on Tuesday evening.
Paputungan said an excavator began working on the site Friday morning after relatives gave permission and a path was cleared through steep jungle terrain.
He said the dozens of emergency workers involved in the grueling rescue “never stop praying that all those still trapped in the mine are able to survive until we can rescue them.”
Food and water has been passed to some of those trapped but officials are concerned oxygen is dwindling in parts of the mine. Rescue workers have used makeshift stretchers to haul victims to a nearby settlement.
Wooden structures in the mine collapsed Tuesday evening due to shifting soil and the large number of mining holes. Informal mining operations are commonplace in Indonesia, providing a tenuous livelihood to thousands who labor in conditions with a high risk of serious injury or death.
On Thursday, a trapped miner’s leg was amputated to free him but the man died from blood loss while being carried out of the area.