June 4, 2018 / 4:25 AM / in 6 months

Five dead in Indonesian illegal gold mine accident

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Five illegal gold miners in the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi died after the mine they were working in collapsed and buried them during heavy rain on Sunday afternoon, Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.

The remains of the five miners, all of them residents of Bakan village, were retrieved at 7 p.m. on Sunday, it said.

A sixth miner who was buried in the incident was yet to be accounted for, the BNPB said in a statement on Monday morning, when a search resumed.

The area where the group were mining near Bakan village is hilly and steep, and landslides are frequent, according to the BNPB statement.

“They had continued to mine despite the heavy rain,” it said.

Bakan is also home to a gold mine operated by PT J Resources Asia Pasifik, where production began in 2013.

Many Indonesians who live on or near mine sites believe they have a right to mine the land for minerals.

Although the central government has banned small-scale gold mining, local officials and police often have interests or turn a blind eye to the practice, which provides a livelihood for thousands of otherwise impoverished families but poses a major threat to their health and the environment.

Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Michael Perry

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