Rescuers hope for miracle as Indonesia mine goes silent

Rescuers carry a survivor of a collapsed mine on a stretcher in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. Rescuers have passed water and food to some of the dozens of people trapped in a collapsed Indonesian gold mine, an official said Thursday, calling the gruelling rescue effort a race against time, in the remote inaccessible location. (AP Photo)
Rescuers carry a survivor of a collapsed mine on a stretcher through a steep terrain in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. Rescuers have passed water and food to some of the dozens of people trapped in a collapsed Indonesian gold mine, an official said Thursday, calling the gruelling rescue effort a race against time, in the remote inaccessible location. (AP Photo)
Rescuers stand at the entrance of a collapsed mine in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. Rescue workers used makeshift stretchers to haul victims of the gold mine collapse through steep jungle terrain to safety, as the death toll rose and dozens remained trapped in the debris. (AP Photo)
Rescuers load the body of a victim of a collapsed mine onto a truck in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. Rescuers have passed water and food to some of the dozens of people trapped in a collapsed Indonesian gold mine, an official said Thursday, calling the gruelling rescue effort a race against time, in the remote inaccessible location. ((AP Photo/Harry Tri Atmojo)
Rescuers take a break near the entrance of a collapsed mine in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. Rescue workers used makeshift stretchers to haul victims of a gold mine collapse through steep jungle terrain to safety, as the death toll rose and dozens remained trapped in the debris. (AP Photo)
Rescuers perform emergency resuscitation on a victim of a collapsed mine on a stretcher in Bolaang Mongondow, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. Rescuers have passed water and food to some of the dozens of people trapped in a collapsed Indonesian gold mine, an official said Thursday, calling the gruelling rescue effort a race against time, in the remote inaccessible location. (AP Photo/Harry Tri Atmojo)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An official overseeing a grueling rescue at a collapsed Indonesian gold mine said that the voices of dozens of trapped miners are no longer being heard as the effort to reach them continued for a fourth day Saturday.

Rescuers are currently not entering the mine in North Sulawesi's Bolaang Mongondow district while an excavator and other heavy equipment are working on it, Abdul Muin Paputungan said.

No one has been saved from remote mine located in steep terrain since Friday when the death toll stood at eight with 20 people rescued. Authorities believe about three dozen miners remain trapped.

"Since yesterday we have heard no more voices from inside. On this fourth day the signs of life faded away," said Paputungan. "But we still try to save them even though at the moment it seems like a miracle if they can survive."

He said using the excavator is a precarious effort that requires a high level of caution to prevent new landslides in the mine or the excavator itself toppling into a ravine. More than 200 people from various agencies are involved in the rescue.

The unlicensed mine collapsed Tuesday evening due to shifting soil and the large number of mining holes. Informal mining operations are commonplace in Indonesia, providing a tenuous livelihood to thousands who labor in conditions with a high risk of serious injury or death.

Survivor Denni Mamonto, being treated at a hospital in Mobagu, said Friday that he was working in the mine with a group of friends when the roof collapsed without warning and large rocks tumbled down on them.

"My leg was stuck, I was helped by two others and then three helped me lift the rocks off my feet, then another person from above helped me out," he said. "But my friends didn't make it, those who work together with me."

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