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Scores die in Indonesia landslide
At least 72 people killed and dozens missing at tea plantation, say disaster officials.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2010 02:54 GMT

The landslide struck the hillside tea plantation after days of heavy rains [AFP]

At least 72 people have been killed on Indonesia's main island of Java after heavy rains triggered major landslides in a tea plantation, the state-run Antara news agency has reported.

The agency quoted Sofyan Nataprawira, a disaster management centre co-ordinator, as saying 25 people are believed to have been killed in the plantation's factory and office and another 47 among the tea plants.

Police had earlier said five tea plantation workers were killed and that another 60 remained buried by the landslide.

Police Chief Lieutenant-Colonel Imron Yunus said the landslide occurred at a tea plantation in mountains in the Ciwidey district after days of heavy rain.

Step Vaessen, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jakarta, said that landslide had been caused by rain water and compounded by deforestation in the area.

"The city of Bandung and the surrounding areas have been covered in rain water for the last couple of weeks," she said.

"It's been a very big landslide and hope is running out for the people who are buried under the rubble.

"The road has been cut off, the phone lines have been cut. What I've been told is that there are only a few soldiers; some local rescue teams but heavy machinery has still to arrive.

"It's already dark and they have just told me that they're going to work through the night to try to save more people. But it's going to be very difficult to find people alive there now."

Thousands of people have been forced out of their homes by flooding in Bandung and Jakarta over the past two weeks.

Antara said some parts of Bandung district have seen the worst flooding in eight years, inundating some 10,000 houses.

"The floods have now started to subside. Related authorities are  now preparing to tackle the potential of post-flood diseases," a  Disaster Mitigation Agency official told Antara.

Many of the floods and landslides which hit Indonesia every wet season are blamed on rampant illegal logging and unchecked development in water catchment areas.

Twenty five miners were killed in a landslide on Sulawesi island  in October, 2008.

In July, 2007 more than 130 people were killed in  floods and landslides on the same island.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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