An overloaded truck carrying 29 people crashed into a hillside near an illegal gold mine in Indonesia’s western Papua province on Wednesday.
JAKARTA, Indonesia – An overloaded truck carrying 29 people overturned on a hillside near an illegal gold mine in Indonesia’s western Papua province on Wednesday, killing 17 people and injuring others, police said.
The truck, carrying miners and their families, was heading to Mankwari, the capital of West Papua province, to celebrate Easter. Local police chief Parisian Herman Gultom said they hit a hill on their way to a mining area in the village of Miniambou in the Arfaq Mountain district and overturned before dawn.
Survivors say the truck’s engine apparently lost power while climbing the mountain. It rolled backwards before crashing, killing 13 people instantly, including a child and the driver. The remaining 16 were taken to two hospitals, some in critical condition and four died while undergoing treatment.
Television reports showed rescuers from the local search and rescue agency fighting to find their prey with their bare hands and finding black body bags in the semi-vertical terrain.
Informal mining is commonplace in Indonesia, providing a meager livelihood for thousands of people who work in situations with a high risk of serious injury or death.
Landslides, floods and tunnel collapses are some of the dangers faced by miners. Most gold ore processing involves highly toxic mercury and cyanide, and workers often use little or no protection.
The last major mining-related accident in the country occurred in February 2019, when a temporary wooden structure at an illegal gold mine in North Sulawesi province collapsed due to landslides and a large number of mining holes. More than 40 people have died, buried in mine pits.