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Jakarta Post

Dozens still trapped as evacuation hindered by area issues

  • Nethy Dharma Somba

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura   /   Thu, May 16, 2013   /  10:33 am

Attempts at PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) to rescue workers trapped in a tunnel in the Big Gossan training facility in Mimika regency, Papua, have been hampered by the confined and restricted space within the tunnel.

Papua Police chief spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya said that the tunnel remained unstable. The incident is
located approximately 500 meters from the entrance of the Big Gossan Mine.

'€œThe evacuation process is carried out manually by enclosing the walls and ceiling of the tunnel with timber beams to hold falling earth,'€ said Sumerta in Jayapura on Wednesday.

Rescuers continue to pump air into the tunnel to maintain an adequate supply of oxygen.

On Tuesday, dozens of PTFI workers were buried by a landslide during safety training at the Big Gossan training site at around 7:45 a.m. local time.

The evacuation is being carried out by PTFI rescuers, local police officers and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Papua Police data showed 14 of the 41 miners trapped in the tunnel had been evacuated and 27 remained trapped.

A press release dispatched by PT FI corporate communications department disclosed that of the 39 people taking part in a training session, four of them were killed, 10 survived and 25 were missing.

The deceased were identified as Mateus Marandof, Selpianus Edowai, Yapinus Tabuni and Aan Nugraha.

'€œThis is a very sad day for us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families and we will continue to do our best to evacuate the remaining workers,'€ said PTFI president director Rozik B. Soetjipto in a statement.

The 10 survivors were taken to the company hospital in Tembagapura and are currently in a stable condition. One was airlifted to Jakarta on Wednesday morning for further treatment, while five others are scheduled to be airlifted on Thursday.

PTFI, an Indonesian affiliate of US-based miner Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., operates the Grasberg Mine in Papua, which has the largest gold reserves and the second-largest copper mine in the world.

Similar incidents have occurred at the PTFI mining area. In December 2009, a worker died and four others suffered injuries in a landslide. In May 2008, at least 20 Papuan gold miners were buried in a landslide at PTFI'€™s tailing area due to two days of heavy rain. The victims were not employees of PTFI.

A landslide in November 2007 injured 13 workers, while in March 2006, two people were killed and another missing after a landslide buried a cafeteria employee at the Grasberg mine.

Previous landslide incidents

December 2009
A worker died and four others suffered injuries in a landslide at the company'€™s mining site.

May 2008
At least 20 Papuan gold miners were buried in a landslide at PTFI'€™s tailing area due to two days
of heavy rain. The victims were not employees of PTFI.

November 2007
A landslide injured 13 workers.

March 2006

Two people were killed and another missing after a landslide buried a cafeteria employee at the Grasberg mine.

October 2003

A massive landslide killed eight employees, injuring five and six others missing.

 

Source: Jakarta Health Agency

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