2 confirmed dead, more than 20 trapped in tunnel near Grasberg mine

A difficult and time-consuming rescue process was ongoing early Wednesday for dozens of Freeport Indonesia employees and
contract workers trapped in a tunnel collapse.
Author: Dorothy Kosich

Freeport Indonesia reported Tuesday that rescue workers from the company have evacuated 10 of 37 people believed trapped in a collapsed tunnel section in an underground mine training facility in the Big Gossan tunnel, outside of the Grasberg copper and gold mine.

The company confirmed that two people were killed, four other employees were evacuated and three escaped unharmed. Two of those evacuated were reportedly in stable condition in the Tembagapur Hospital.

A total of 40 employees and contract workers were in a classroom at the mine training facility when part of a tunnel collapsed at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Three persons managed to escape immediately. All of those trapped are male. The tunnel is 500 meters (1,600 feet) away from one of the Grasberg mining areas.

It took 10 hours for the rescue team to dig through the tunnel to reach the miners.

“We don’t want to be careless because the terrain surrounding the old tunnel is prone to collapse, said Papua police spokesman Lt. Col. Gede Sumerta Jaya. He noted that the reason for the collapse remain unclear.

A member of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, Daryanto Toto, told the news website Republika Online that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of the Environment and the police immediately africacasinos.co.za form a team to investigate the cause of the landslide to determine if it is a natural disaster or caused by human error.

“Our first priority is to make every effort to rescue trapped workers,” said Rozik Boedioro Soetijipto, president-director of Freeport Indonesia. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased.”