Rescuers have recovered the bodies of a dozen women who were buried under tons of mud after a landslide swept through an unauthorized gold mine on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, police said Friday.

The day before, some 14 women were working for gold grains in a well just two meters (6.5 feet) deep at a small, traditional, unauthorized gold mine in a remote village in the Mandailing Natal district of North Sumatra. , when the landslide advanced through the nearby hills and buried them, explained the local police chief, Marlon Rajagukguk.

After two hours, a search and rescue operation found two injuries and pulled the bodies of the other 12 from the rubble, Rajagukguk said.

According to the policeman, after the incident the authorities closed the illegal gold exploitations in the area.

Informal mines are common in Indonesia, providing a meager livelihood for thousands of people who work at high risk of injury or death.

Landslides, flooding and tunnel collapses are just a few of the dangers miners face. Much of the gold processing involves highly toxic products like mercury and cyanide, and miners often wear little or no protection.

The last mining tragedy in the country occurred in February 2019 after the collapse of a precarious wooden structure in an illegal gold mine in the province of North Sulawesi due to a landslide and the large number of extraction holes. More than 40 people died buried inside the well.

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