Ten Killed in Sulawesi Helicopter Crash

JAKARTA

A helicopter crash in Sulawesi killed 10 people including at least two Australians employed by Melbourne-based Newcrest Mining, officials said on Thursday.

The company said two South Africans were also killed but Indonesian officials insisted all four foreigners who perished in the accident were Australians, citing the passenger list.

Six Indonesians also died when the chopper went down in heavy rain on Wednesday afternoon shortly after taking off from Manado, local officials said.

“The helicopter crashed in a mountainous area and it was raining when the accident happened,” Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.

An Indonesian man who was found alive at the crash scene on Thursday morning later died of his injuries, raising the toll to 10, officials said.

Search and rescue workers discovered the badly damaged wreckage in dense forest about 10 kilometres 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.

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.

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.

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