JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Rocks as big as trucks buried miners when an unlicensed Indonesian gold mine collapsed last week, a search and rescue official said Tuesday, as the effort to find victims recovered more bodies, body parts and belongings.
The director of operations at the national search and rescue agency, Budi Purnama, said three intact bodies, body parts and backpacks and shoes were recovered Tuesday. He said one body and part of a leg were recovered Monday.
That raises the death toll to at least 13. Authorities are unsure how many people were in the remote mine in North Sulawesi when it collapsed a week ago but the national disaster agency has said as many as 100.
“The rocks that hit the miners were large, some as big as a truck,” Purnama told The Associated Press.
He said an excavator has opened access to the mine’s main cavern but progress is being hampered by the danger to rescuers who are pulling apart a rock pile believed to be covering victims.
“We are determined to evacuate all victims completely, whatever the conditions we have to face,” Purnama said.
The unlicensed mine collapsed Feb. 26 due to shifting soil and the large number of mining holes.
Nineteen people were rescued with injuries from ranging from minor to serious.
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.
Rescuers initially used their bare hands and shovels to find victims and fashioned stretchers from branches, twine and other materials to carry survivors away from the mine, located in steep jungle terrain.
One miner’s leg was amputated to free him but he died from blood loss while being carried to a nearby settlement.