Freeport mine collapse toll climbs to 21

The death toll from a mine collapse at an Indonesia has risen to 21, with rescuers retrieving four more bodies from a collapsed underground room.

Seven others are believed to be buried under the ruins, mine officials say.

The Big Gossan underground training classroom at the Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg mine collapsed last Tuesday where 38 workers were in safety training.

Ten injured miners were rescued, The Australian reported.

Work at the Grasberg mine has stopped since the collapse in solidarity with the victims and to focus on rescue work.

Rescue operations were hampered by the need to stabilise the ground and roof due to falling rocks. Rescuers were able to see people amongst the debris but could not reach them until the ground was stable.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he had directed two cabinet ministers to investigate the incident but their visits were prohibited by the company to allow for rescue operations.

“I will continue to order the ministers as well as other concerned officials to thoroughly discuss and investigate to find out what has to be done to ensure safety in the future,” Yudhoyono said after attending talks about the accident.

“We will evaluate all mining companies in the country, not only Freeport.”

President and CEO of Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold Ricchard Adkerson visited the families of those still buried and rescued workers.

“I am deeply saddened and disturbed by this event,” Adkerson said.

“The entire Freeport family around the world joins Freeport Indonesia in grieving for our lost brothers.”

Freeport Indonesia posted pictures of the rescue efforts on their Facebook page. One photo shows the rescue group praying before beginning the rescue operations.

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