JAKARTA — Human rights and environmental activists have called for an investigation following the sudden death of a top government official in a remote Indonesian archipelago who was opposed to a planned mine covering more than half of his district. Helmud Hontong, the deputy head of Sangihe district in North Sulawesi province, died June 9 on board a flight from Bali to Makassar, South Sulawesi. Witnesses said he had appeared healthy earlier, but later complained of a sore throat and experienced hacking coughs and bleeding from his mouth and nose. He was 58. The abrupt nature of his death has sparked speculation that it may have been linked to his strong opposition to a gold mining concession held by PT Tambang Mas Sangihe that covers 42,000 hectares (103,800 acres), or nearly three-fifths of Sangihe district’s total land area of 73,698 hectares (182,112 acres). TMS is 70% owned by Canadian miner Sangihe Gold Corporation, with the rest of held by three Indonesian firms: PT Sungai Balayan Sejati, PT Sangihe Prima Mineral, and PT Sangihe Pratama Mineral. Indonesia’s Sulawesi, the world’s 11th-largest island. The Sangihe Islands lie in a string off the northernmost tip of Sulawesi. A map of the main island of Sangihe, showing the mining concession held by PT Tambang Mas Sangihe. Image courtesy of the Indonesian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The North Sulawesi police on June 14 said an autopsy had shown no indications that Hontong may have been poisoned. Instead, they said it appeared he died…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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