JAKARTA – Soldiers, policemen and residents search the mud for possible victims of a landslide caused by torrential rains that killed at least nine people and left 34 others missing in an isolated Indonesian village.
Tons of mud that rolled from surrounding hills buried Monday 30 houses in the village of Sirnaresmi, in Sukabumi District, West Java. Sixty displaced people fled to a temporary shelter, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokeswoman for the National Agency for Natural Disaster Reduction.
She added that more than 500 rescuers found eight bodies in mud mounds and removed four injured people, including one infant who died at the hospital. They are still looking for 34 villagers who would still be missing.
Authorities have struggled to get tractors and other heavy equipment on wet roads because heavy rains hamper research efforts, Nugroho said. Television footage showed hundreds of policemen, soldiers and residents digging debris with their hands, shovels and hoes.
“The lack of equipment, the bad weather and the power outage have hampered our relief efforts for those who are still missing and whose death is to be feared,” Nugroho said.
Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of widespread landslides and floods in much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile floodplains near rivers.
The landslide occurred during the New Year celebrations less than two weeks after a deadly disaster caused by a volcano and tsunami.
On December 22, the Anak Krakatau volcano in Sunda Sound erupted and partially collapsed into the sea, causing a tsunami that killed 437 people on the islands of Java and Sumatra. At least 16 people are still missing and more than 33,700 residents have been displaced
(Sahar News/Monitoring Desk)