MAC/20: Mines and Communities

At Least 11 Gold Miners Killed in Indonesian Mine Incident

Published by MAC on 2004-03-03


At Least 11 Gold Miners Killed in Indonesian Mine Incident

March 3 2004

AFP

JAKARTA - At least 11 people, mostly illegal miners, have been killed by fumes at a state-run gold mine in Indonesia's Java island, a hospital official said.

Several newspapers said the victims were suffocated by smoke from old tyres which were allegedly set ablaze by mining company officials to flush out the illegal miners. There was no immediate official confirmation.

A morgue worker at a hospital in Bogor town just south of Jakarta said they had received four bodies following the incident early Wednesday.

"Following reports from the site of the incident, we are still expecting the arrival of between seven to nine other bodies," said the worker, Zaenah.

She said it was difficult to recover the bodies from the mine at Mount Pongkor 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Bogor.

A forensic worker at the same hospital has said the four who were taken to the morgue died from breathing poisonous fumes.

One of the four was a state mining company employee while the other three were believed to be illegal miners, Zaenah said.

Most victims were working on illegal shafts on the higher levels of the mountain. State-run Aneka Tambang mines the lower shafts for gold.

Asep Saefulloh, 41, an illegal miner who was outside the entrance at the time, told the Pikiran Rakyat daily he believed there were six teams of illegal miners working inside at the time.

"So there are about 70 other people whose fate remain unknown," Saefulloh told the daily. The figure for missing could not be independently confirmed.

Local police had no immediate comment. A spokesperson for Aneka Tambang said the company would issue a statement later Thursday.

Illegal mining is rampant in resource-rich Indonesia and fatalities are common. The Jakarta Post said 66 miners had been killed at Mount Pongkor alone since 1997.

 

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