The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Friday, 01 March 2019 01:30

Landslide in Indonesian illegal gold mine: At least 3 people dead

Landslide in Indonesian illegal gold mine Source: BBC Landslide in Indonesian illegal gold mine Source: BBC.

A landslide at an unlicensed goldmine buried numerous people, causing at least 3 fatalities, in Indonesia.

The landslide occurred at 9:00 local time on February 26, 2019 in the Bakan village, North Sulawesi province, Indonesia. Support beams in the gold mine gave way due to shifting soil. The structural collapse triggered the slide.

When starting a mine, the characteristics of the landscape should be considered. Such an evaluation would involve "the type of soil -- if it is stony or not -- how many trees or other forestation is present in the location, and the ability of the slope to support the burden if it rains (heavily)," as Agus Budianto, landslide mitigation head at the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center, describes.
However, illegal small-scale mines do not carry out such investigations and thus structural or soil failures can occur. In this particular case, the supports bars failed triggering a soil failure.

According to recent updates, 7 people have been confirmed dead and 19 have been rescued. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict the number of people that are still trapped under the debris. "We think there are still many people inside the mine, because it is an illegal mine, so we cannot predict. Based on statements from people who survived, the numbers are inconsistent. Some say there were more than 100 in the mine, some said about 80. We are still in the dark when it comes to the actual number," Yasti Soepredjo, head of the Bolaang Mongondow region, stated.

Rescue teams were working by hand in search of survivors as heavy equipment could not be carried in such a remote region. Moreover, rescuers should be particularly cautious when digging inside the rubble to avoid triggered subsequent failures. "Unstable soil conditions make us extra careful lifting rocks because it can lead to new landslides. We still hear voices crying for help from people beneath the rubble," Abdul Muin Paputungan, a local disaster official, commented.

Some people believe that local unemployment has forced residents to rely on illegal mining in order to survive.

Sources: Theguardian.comCNN.comBBC.com

Read 119 times Last modified on Friday, 01 March 2019 16:24

The Geoengineer.org News Center is being funded by our Annual Corporate Sponsors " (learn more):