Rescuers outside the collapsed mine. Photo: YouTube

Dozens of people in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, were buried and trapped in an illegal gold mine when it collapsed on Tuesday. Abdul Muin Paputungan, an official working for the Indonesian disaster management agency, said three people had been killed in the disaster that took place at about 9 pm on February 26 in the village of Bakan, CNN reported.

Paputungan told the media that two of the three were killed by falling rocks. He added that an estimated 43 illegal miners were still trapped and their screams for help were being heard clearly. However, authorities were hesitant to make a move as the land was susceptible to further collapses, which could prove fatal for the men trapped inside.

So far, 14 people have been rescued. Rescuers and volunteers were reportedly working by hand as heavy equipment could not be delivered to the remote location. Paputungan also said that the struts supporting the entrance of the mine broke and caused the collapse. The area is rife with illegal tunnels and mineshafts.

Authorities explained that the disaster was not a natural one but was caused by human activity. Officials said that local and provincial government bodies should do a better job of warning the public about the hazards of illegal mining.

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