Rescuers searching for 23 trapped workers at a giant U.S.-owned gold and copper mine in Indonesia spotted six bodies today but weren’t able to immediately retrieve them because of falling debris, a company official said.
The collapse at the Big Gossan underground training facility at the PT Freeport Indonesia mine happened last Tuesday when 38 workers were undergoing safety training.
Ten miners were rescued and five bodies have been recovered since then.
Nurhadi Sabirin, head of the company’s emergency response team, said vibrations have been detected that could be a human heartbeat, but they could also have resulted from a number of other causes.
Mining operations at the Grasberg mine in remote Mimika district in the easternmost province of Papua have been suspended since Tuesday to pay respects to the victims and to concentrate on rescue operations. The company said the accident was expected to have no significant impact on its operations.
Around 1,000 workers are still blocking a main road about two miles (three kilometers) from the accident site in solidarity with the victims, and also to seek a guarantee of safety in working underground.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered Freeport and government agencies to thoroughly investigate the accident.
More than 20,000 workers are employed at the mine owned by Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. in the restive province, which holds some of the world’s largest gold and copper reserves.
Always sad to hear about trapped miners. Must be hell!