JAKARTA – Eleven men are believed to have been buried alive when a mudslide occurred while they were illegally prospecting for gold in the district of Merangin, Jambi in Sumatera, Tuesday.
Online media today quoted National Disaster Management Information Data and Public Relations Centre chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho as saying that, “search and rescue operations were under way, that none of the victims had been evacuated”.
He said it had been raining heavily prior to the incident around 5pm, but the men reportedly continued working in the mine which was more than 50m deep.
The downpour which lasted for several hours triggered the mudslide which flowed into the mine, he said.
He said efforts to transport heavy machinery were hampered by poor accessibility to the site located deep in the interior.
Nevertheless, Sutopo said, the team was making every endeavour to draw the mud and water out of the mine and retrieve the victims.
Illegal gold prospecting had been carried out openly in Jambi by villagers in Merangin.
Recently, police closed down 15 illegal mines in an oil palm plantation in the district and also seized mining equipment from the suspects.
However, the illegal activities continued because of high demand for gold in the district.