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The death toll from landslides near a gold mine striking Indonesia’s central island of Sulawesi, increased to 23 people, while 35 others are still missing, an official said Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

Unlicensed mines are common across the mineral-rich Southeast Asian archipelago, where abandoned sites attract locals who hunt for leftover gold ore without proper safety equipment.

The landslide hit a remote village in the Bone Bolango district of Gorontalo province late Saturday following intense rains.

“As of this afternoon… 23 people died, 66 people survived and 35 people are being searched” for, Gorontalo search and rescue agency official Ida Bagus Nyoman Ngurah Asrama told AFP.

A search and rescue official previously said that some victims were miners while others were people who operated stalls near the mine.

More than 270 people, including police officers and soldiers, have been deployed as part of the rescue operation over the last two days, Ida said.

Vehicles remain unable to reach the disaster area as several bridges collapsed, with rescuers having to travel by foot.

Indonesia is prone to landslides during the rainy season between November and April, but July is usually dry season and heavy rains are rare.

In May, at least 15 people died after landslides and flooding in South Sulawesi province swept away dozens of houses and damaged roads

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