BOGOR, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers retrieved three bodies Thursday among 12 miners buried under a landslide while digging illegally at a state-run gold mine on Indonesia’s main island of Java.
They were buried under a landslide Tuesday at the Aneka Tambang-controlled mine in the mountainous region of Pongkor near the West Java town of Bogor, 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the capital, Jakarta.
The 12 had been sneaking into the mining area and digging gold in a half-meter-wide pit at a depth of 10 to 30 meters (33 to 98 feet).
Local police Chief Lt. Col. Ario Seto Suyudi said rescuers spotted two more bodies but could not pull them out because the pit where they were buried was too narrow.
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Suyudi, who led a 200-member search and rescue team, said the narrow pit and bad ventilation hampered the search for the other victims, who are presumed dead.
Illegal mining has been common in gold mines in Indonesia, especially at the 6,047-hectare Pongkor mining area which is the main source of gold and silver production of the state-owned Aneka Tambang.
Suyudi said at least 352 people have been killed, and more than 260 were injured due to illegal mining activities in Pongkor since 1998, four years after mining started.
Last month police destroyed more than 440 houses and huts belonging to the illegal miners, known locally as Gurandil near the mining area, and closed hundreds of illegal gold pits.