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Indonesia mine final death toll: 28

22 May 2013, 16:04

Timika - Rescuers have recovered seven more bodies from a collapsed mine tunnel in eastern Indonesia, its US operator said on Wednesday, taking the accident's final toll to 28.

The rescue team "recovered and identified the last of the remains of the buried workers early this morning", the Indonesian subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan said in a statement.

Thirty-eight workers were initially trapped on 14 May when part of the tunnel caved in at Freeport's Grasberg, one of the world's biggest gold and copper mines high in the mountains of remote Papua province.

Ten people were recovered alive soon afterwards but rescue efforts were hampered by the narrow tunnel and the unstable situation, with rocks continuing to fall from the roof.

Freeport declared on Wednesday a day of mourning, and said that memorial services would be held in its Jakarta office and in Papua.

"We continue to grieve with the families even as we close this grim chapter," said Rozik Soetjipto, president of Freeport's Indonesian subsidiary.

Freeport-McMoRan president and chief executive Richard Adkerson arrived on site at the weekend to visit the injured workers and the families of those still buried.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged that the government will carry out a full investigation into the accident, and safety at mines across the country will be checked.

Operations have been halted at the mine since last week as a mark of respect for those affected by the accident.

The tunnel was part of an underground training facility, not one of the mining areas. Those trapped inside at the time were attending a safety training course.

Grasberg has a troubled history. A three-month strike in 2011 crippled production, and around the same time there was a spate of deadly shootings at the mine.



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