Landslide at gold mine kills at least 12 on Indonesian island

Dozens of others are missing.

At least 12 people died in the landslide in Suwawa on Sulawesi Island (BASARNAS via AP)
At least 12 people died in the landslide in Suwawa on Sulawesi Island (BASARNAS via AP) (BASARNAS/AP)

A landslide triggered by torrential rains crashed onto an unauthorised gold mining operation on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, killing at least 12 people, officials said.

Dozens of others have been reported missing.

More than 100 villagers were digging for grains of gold on Sunday in the remote Bone Bolango district in Gorontalo province when tonnes of mud plunged down the surrounding hills and buried their makeshift camps, said search and rescue chief Heriyanto.

He said 44 people managed to escape from landslide, some of whom were pulled out alive by rescuers, including six injured.

Twelve bodies were recovered, including those of three women and a four-year-old boy. Some 48 others are missing, he added.

Rescue official Afifuddin Ilahude said: “Relief efforts for the dead and missing were hampered by heavy rain and blocked roads covered with thick mud and debris.”

National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said torrential rains that have pounded the area since Saturday also broke an embankment, causing floods of up to 10ft in five villages in Bone Bolango. Nearly 300 houses were affected and more than 1,000 people have fled for safety.

Informal mining operations are common in Indonesia, providing a tenuous livelihood to thousands who work in conditions with a high risk of serious injury or death.

Heavy rains triggered a landslide in south Sulawesi, killing at least 18 people in April.

Torrential rain in May triggered flash floods and mudslides, killing more than 50 people in West Sumatra province.