JAKARTA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia commenced closing operations of several unlicensed mining sites following floods, flash floods and landslides striking areas in and around the country's capital of Jakarta earlier this month that have left over 67 people dead.
The activities in scores of traditional gold mining sites in the upstream areas of rivers were blamed to be the cause of deforestation as the miners cut trees for construction of underground mines.
The task force set up by the provincial police of Banten, a nearby province of Jakarta, on Friday shut down ten major illegal gold mining sites which are situated in the National Park of Mount Halimun in the province, the task force's head Senior Commissioner Aminudin Roemtaat said.
"Today (Friday) we closed ten big illegal mining sites and set police lines there," he told reporters.
Roemtaat, also head of the operation unit of the provincial police, stressed that police would take stern actions, should the miners resume mining activities in the closed sites.
The police officer disclosed that it was expected that there are hundreds of underground mining activities in the location situated near the upstream areas of the rivers.
"The closure will be done if the task force personnel find more illegal mining activities," he said.
For law enforcement, an investigation has been carried out by the special crime unit of the provincial police over the dangerous and illegal activities, said Roemtaat.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry's director general for conservation of natural resources and ecosystem said the illegal activities have also caused landslides and damaged soil structures as the miners used dynamites and mercury in the mining activities.
Previously, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered authorities to close the illegal mining sites.
The poor safety standard has also been blamed for rampant accidents at illegal mining sites across Indonesia.