Archipelago

Govt to investigate Freeport
landslide

On watch: PT Freeport Indonesia workers gather at the Mile 72 point in Timika, Papua, on Friday, to keep vigil at the Big Gossan tunnel, where a landslide buried dozens of their colleagues. (Antara/Spedy Paereng)
On watch: PT Freeport Indonesia workers gather at the Mile 72 point in Timika, Papua, on Friday, to keep vigil at the Big Gossan tunnel, where a landslide buried dozens of their colleagues. (Antara/Spedy Paereng)

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said he had assigned subordinates to investigate the landslid at the Big Gossan training facility at a PT Freeport Indonesia’s (PTFI) mining site in Timika, Papua.

“It’s a modern mining area. How did this happen?” Jero said on Friday, as quoted by tempo.co.

Jero said that two mining inspectors and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s director general for minerals and coals had flown to the site and were assigned to observe the situation and oversee the evacuation.

According to Jero, the initial investigation said that bad weather and subterranean vibrations caused the landslide. “This accident forces us to recheck all underground mining,” Jero said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for a thorough investigation.

“Every worker at any institution has the right to get workplace protection. I demand an immediate investigation into the PT Freeport’s incident,” Yudhoyono said on Twitter on Friday. “Following the Freeport incident, I urge all companies in Indonesia to increase safety for their workers.”

The landslide buried dozens of PTFI workers while they were in a room of the Big Gossan training facility on Tuesday at around 7:45 a.m.

PTFI, the Indonesian affiliate of US-based miner Freeport-McMoran Copper & Co., suspended all mining activities two days after the landslide as a mark of condolence and sympathy for the victims.

PTFI president director Roziek B Soetjipto said that PTFI remained focused on the evacuation of the trapped workers.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Commission B of the Mimika Legislative Assembly, Wilhelmus Pigai called for an independent investigation, urging the company to carry out an overall evaluation of its underground work safety system.

“We should not underestimate this incident. This is an extraordinary incident, which claimed a lot of victims,” Wilhelmus said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Wilhelmus said that he supported the temporary closure so the company could focus on the evacuation.

PTFI has reported that there were 39 workers in the room, 11 who escaped, five who were killed and 23 still trapped.

Some of the survivors still have to undergo follow-up treatment in Jakarta because they are still in critical condition.

Nethy Dharma Somba contributed reporting from Jayapura

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