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Deadly landslide hits Indonesia
At least 17 dead as search continues for scores of missing in mudslide near Bandung.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2010 16:28 GMT
Hopes of finding survivors was fading fast as rescuers struggled to dig with basic tools [AFP]

At least 17 people are confirmed to have died and dozens more are missing, feared buried, following a massive landslide on the Indonesian island of Java.

Rescuers used basic digging tools and later excavators to clear tonnes of mud which engulfed dozens of homes and the workers' quarters at a tea plantation on Tuesday afternoon.

The landslide followed days of heavy rain and flooding in the area.

One rescuer said more than 70 people were suspected buried by the landslide which occurred near the village of Tenjoljaya in Ciwidey district, about 35km southwest of the city of Bandung in West Java province.

The winding, muddy mountain roads in the area have hampered efforts to get equipment and rescuers to the scene, and more landslides are expected in the coming days.

"We have six sniffer dogs on site and rescuers are digging manually using hoes and light cutting equipment to reach victims," Dade Ahmad, a West Java police spokesman, said.

"We are still trying to bring in the heavy earth-moving equipment. It's difficult to get to the area, which is on a steep slope."

Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said villagers manually recovered six bodies from the mud on Tuesday using farm tools and their bare hands.

He said 25 people were believed to have died in the plantation's factory and office.

Kardono said some 600 villagers from the region have been evacuated to temporary shelters in safer locations, most of them from unaffected nearby villages that are in landslide-prone areas.

Hopes fading

Thousands of people have been forced out of their homes by flooding in and around Bandung with some areas reporting the worst flooding seen in several years.

Thousands were also evacuated following the recent flooding in Bandung [Reuters]
Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reporting from near Tuesday's disaster site said hopes of finding survivors was fading more than 24 hours after the massive landslide.

She said authorities had issued a landslide warning a few weeks ago in the affected area, which sits on the slope of a volcano, but it appears that nothing was done.

Landslides and flooding are common in Indonesia during the rainy season, which hits a peak from December to February.

Many of the disasters are blamed on rampant illegal logging and unchecked development in water catchment areas.

In October 2008 25 miners were killed in a landslide on Sulawesi island.

More than 130 people died in floods and landslides on the same island in July, 2007.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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