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Jakarta Post

Hope and time running out or trapped Freeport workers

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, May 18, 2013   /  11:21 am
Hope and time running out or trapped Freeport workers Fading fast: Workers surround an ambulance following the freeing of a trapped worker on Friday. On Saturday, 23 PT Freeport Indonesia workers were still trapped the company’s site in Mimika, Papua. (Antara/Freeport) (Antara/Freeport)

Fading fast: Workers surround an ambulance following the freeing of a trapped worker on Friday. On Saturday, 23 PT Freeport Indonesia workers were still trapped the company'€™s site in Mimika, Papua. (Antara/Freeport)

About 23 PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) workers were still trapped in a landslide at the Bog Gossan training facility at the company'€™s site in Mimika, Papua, as of Saturday.

PTFI has reportedly opened access to the landslide location and '€œLifepak 3'€ detectors are being used in the search for survivors.

PTFI Mining General Manager Nurhadi Sabirin, who also leads the evacuation team, said that Lifepak 3 was able to detect vibrations equal to a human heartbeat.

'€œWe have not found any signs of life during the last 72 hours,'€ Nurhadi said as quoted by Antara news agency on Saturday.

Nurhadi said rescuers had been working around the clock to save the remaining 23 trapped workers, adding that the longer it went on, the smaller chances of finding any survivors.

The evacuation has been hampered by the confined space in the tunnel.

President Director of PTFI Rozik B. Soetjipto said that PTFI, Indonesian affiliation of US-based miner Freeport McMoran Copper & Co., would conduct a thorough investigation to find the cause of the tragedy.

'€œWe will make use of international experts and involve the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry in the investigation,'€ he said, ensuring that similar accident would never happen again.

Earlier, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik said that two mining inspectors and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry'€™s director general for minerals and coal had flown to the site to observe the situation and oversee the evacuation.

The initial investigations points to bad weather and subterranean vibrations as the cause of the landslide.

The landslide hit the Big Gossan training facility on Tuesday at around 7:45 a.m. and buried dozens of PTFI workers.

Vice President Corporate Communications of PTFI Daisy Primayanti said that there had been a misunderstanding regarding the number of victims.

'€œEarlier, it was reported there were 39 workers trapped, but later we found out a worker managed to escape, uninjured,'€ said Daisy.

Of the 38 workers; 10 survived, five are known to have been killed, while the condition of the rest remains unknown, but hopes of finding any more survivors are fading by the hour.

Five survivors have been airlifted to Jakarta and five others are still being treated at Tembagapura Hospital, Papua.

PTFI, which operates the Grasberg Mine in Papua and has the largest gold reserves and the second-largest copper mine in the world, is suspending its mining operations as a mark of condolence for those who died.

Similar incidents have ever occurred in the past few years.

In December 2009, one worker died and four were injured in another landslide at the site. In May 2008, at least 20 more were buried in a landslide at PTFI'€™s tailing area due to heavy rain. The victims were not employees of PTFI.

Three people were killed after a landslide buried a cafeteria at the Grasberg mine in March 2006, while in October 2003, a another landslide killed 14.

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