Chopper crash kills 10 in Indonesia: officials

JAKARTA, Aug 4, 2011 (AFP) - A helicopter crash in Indonesia killed nine people including two Australians and two South Africans employed by Melbourne-based Newcrest Mining, the company said Thursday.

Local officials said the toll climbed to 10 when an Indonesian man found alive in the wreckage subsequently died of his injuries.

AFP - Rescue team evacuate Dian Rimba Rudiansyamar, a survivor of the helicopter crash

Six Indonesians and four foreigners were on board the chopper when it went down in heavy rain Wednesday afternoon shortly after taking off from Manado on Sulawesi island, local officials said.

"The helicopter crashed in a mountainous area and it was raining when the accident happened," transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan told AFP.

Search and rescue workers discovered the badly damaged wreckage in dense forest about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Manado, North Sulawesi province.

The Bell 412 aircraft was flying to Newcrest's Gosowong mine on the island of Halmahera, some 2,400 kilometres northeast of the capital Jakarta, Australia's largest gold producer said.

The helicopter was chartered by PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals, a joint venture between Newcrest Mining Ltd. and Indonesian company PT Aneka Tambang. Newcrest said the cause of the crash was not yet known.

"There were 10 people on board the helicopter, which was transporting eight employees and contractors to the mine and there were two crew," said the Australian Stock Exchange-listed Newcrest.

A spokeswoman for the Australian foreign ministry confirmed that two Australians and two South Africans were among the dead, contradicting local officials who insisted all four foreign victims were Australians.

Senior executives were en route to Manado, along with PT Halmahera Minerals director Iwan Irawan, with work at the Gosowong mine suspended, added the company, one of the world's lowest-cost gold producers.

"Newcrest and Aneka Tambang express their deepest sadness and condolences to family, colleagues and friends of the passengers over this tragic event," said Newcrest chief executive Greg Robinson.

The company said no senior executives were among the dead.

Newcrest is the world's sixth largest gold miner by volume, with 2.8 percent of the global market, according to Deutsche Bank.

Gosowong is the company's only gold mine in Indonesia, and produced 19.4 percent of the company's total gold output in the April-June quarter, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Newcrest, which has around 5,100 employees and is among Australia's top 20 companies by market capitalisation, added that counselling and support services were being made available to family and employees.

The company operates across Australia as well as in Indonesia.

Mining is a huge industry in resource-rich Indonesia, with many operations scattered across remote parts of the massive archipelago of 17,000 islands.

Other news