Reports of 17 dead at Big Gossan training facility
According to a report by the Associated Press published on May 20, 2013 the death toll has risen to 17 from the training tunnel collapse at the Big Gossan underground training facility at the PT Freeport Indonesia Grasberg complex. As many as 14 other workers are still missing and believed dead.
Papua police spokesman Lt. Colonel Gede Sumerta Jaya said five more bodies were found early Monday under tons and rocks and dirt. “There is no possibility of life five days after the cave-in,” he told news media.
PT Freeport Indonesia said Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold CEO Richard Adkerson visited the rescue site and also spent time with victims on the hospital and families of the victims. He also attended a joint prayer session with PTFI President Director Rozik Soetjipto and other PTFI managers.
In a statement, PT Freeport Indonesia said that its joint emergency response team are working all day, trying as quickly and safety as possible to reach the 14 employees and contractors still trapped in a classroom in the Big Gossan underground training tunnel, located about 500 meters from the entrance of the Big Gossan mine. However, rescue work is being hampered by unstable ground surrounding the location.
Mining operations at the nearby Grasberg mine have been suspended since May 14, when the collapse first happened, out of respect to the victims and to concentrate on rescue operations.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that 1,000 workers are blocking a main road about 3 km (2 miles) away from the accident site in solidarity with the victims and to seek a guarantee of worker safety underground.