A massive landslide hit a gold mining area on Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. 23 people including three women and a four-year-old boy were killed, 18 individuals injured. 45 people remain missing, 52 villagers managed to escape the landslide.

Indonesia: Landslide at Unauthorized Gold Mine Kills At Least 23

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The disaster occurred in the Bone Bolango district of Gorontalo province. Heavy rains since Saturday triggered the landslide on Sunday.

Heavy rain and thick mud blocked roads. Some rescuers had to walk up to 20 kilometers to reach the site. The use of farm tools and bare hands was necessary due to the conditions.

Plans to use excavators as soon as conditions permit. Sniffer dogs were deployed to aid in the search for bodies. Videos showed rescuers extracting mud-covered bodies and placing them in black bags for burial.

Indonesia’s disaster agency warned of continued rain on Monday and Tuesday. Improved weather conditions allowed more bodies to be recovered on Tuesday.

The landslide broke an embankment leading to flooding in five villages. Nearly 300 houses were affected and more than 1,000 people fled to safety. A bridge in the area was also affected.

Landslides and flash floods are common during the monsoon season in Indonesia. In May similar events in West Sumatra province killed over 50 people.

On April 2022, a landslide at an illegal mine in North Sumatra killed 12 women. On February 2019, a collapse at a North Sulawesi mine buried and killed over 40 people.

Heriyanto, head of the provincial Search and Rescue office detailed the difficulties faced by rescue teams. Efforts were hampered by the terrain and weather.

The disaster affected over 1,000 people forcing them to flee to safer areas. Flooding caused damage to homes and infrastructure.

Over 100 villagers were involved in illegal gold mining when the landslide occurred. The mining operations provided a livelihood for the people.

Many villagers engage in unlicensed mining often in unsafe conditions. The use of toxic substances like mercury and cyanide in gold processing is common.

Indonesia’s geographical landscape with mountainous areas and flood plains makes it prone to natural disasters. Landslides, flooding and collapsing tunnels are threats to miners.

Rescue workers immediately began searching for survivors. The landslide struck while over 100 villagers were mining for gold.

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More than 400 rescuers including police and military personnel were deployed. Heavy equipment, sniffer dogs and basic tools like farm implements and bare hands were used to sift through the mud and debris.

66 villagers managed to escape on their own. 23 individuals were pulled out alive by rescuers with 18 suffering from injuries.

The bodies of 23 victims were recovered including three women and a four-year-old boy. Approximately 35 villagers remain missing.

The landslide buried makeshift camps of the villagers. Bone Bolango, part of the mountainous district in Gorontalo province was heavily affected by the incident.

Floodwaters reached up to the roofs of houses affecting nearly 300 homes and displacing over 1,000 residents.

Indonesia experiences frequent landslides and flash floods during the monsoon season. Although July is usually part of the dry season, unusual weather patterns have caused unexpected heavy rains.

In May 2024, a similar incident in South Sulawesi’s Luwu district resulted in 14 deaths. March 2024 saw flash floods and a landslide in Sumatra killing 19 people and leaving seven missing.

Unauthorized mining operations are common across Indonesia. These operations provide a livelihood for many but come with high risks of landslides, flooding and tunnel collapses.

The use of toxic substances like mercury and cyanide in gold ore processing poses health risks. Workers often lack proper safety equipment.

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