Jakarta, March 7 (IANS) At least 27 people have died in last week's gold mine collapse in central Indonesia, authorities said on Thursday while announcing an end to the search and rescue operation.
"A total of 27 miners have died. The search for the victims ended today (Thursday) because the situation in the underground has been unsafe for the rescuers and failed to comply with the health standards," Haris Dilapanga, Head of the Disaster Management Agency in Bolaang Mongondow district where the mine is situated, told Xinhua news agency.
A total of 18 miners survived the disaster which hit the unlicensed gold mine in Bakan village of Indonesia's North Sulawesi province on February 26, but many of whom suffer from wounds, Dilapanga said.
Poor mine infrastructure and too many underground tunnels dug by miners along with an unstable soil condition were blamed for the incident, according to the agency.
The Indonesian government has prohibited operation of illegal gold mines, which is common in the country's remote areas. Lacking safety standards, such activities have often triggered mine accidents in Indonesia, a natural resources-rich nation.