Many missing in deadly Indonesia landslide

At least 20 people confirmed dead and search under way for hundreds after mudslide buries homes in Java province.

    A landslide in Indonesia triggered by torrential rains has left at least 20 people dead, destroyed 105 houses and left at least 88 people missing, officials say.

    Rescuers struggled on Saturday to reach those missing after the mudslide buried houses in a hilly district on the country's main island of Java the previous night.

    Hundreds of rescuers, including police, soldiers and residents, were digging through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes for the people still missing. 

    They were later helped by tractors and bulldozers arriving in the district.

    Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen, reporting from Jakarta, said the rescue efforts were going slowly because the area was still very unsafe.

    "It has been raining non-stop for two days, and that is the reason this huge chunk of mountain came down - a whole village has been wiped away," our correspondent said.

    "Around 700 rescue workers and volunteers are in the area, but work is painstakingly slow. They can only use manual equipment.

    "It is very dangerous for rescue workers as landslides could happen at any minute."

    Workers were using life detection equipment in the area, but had been unable to locate any survivors.

    Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said 379 people had been taken to temporary shelters.

    "Jemblung village was the most affected," he said in a statement. "Rescuers are still trying to find more victims. The challenge is that the evacuation route is also damaged by the landslide."

    "At the moment eight people have been found dead and we are still looking for 100 unaccounted for."

    "Conditions on the ground are pretty tough and we need heavy machines to clear the road that has been covered by the landslide."

    Hundreds have been evacuated from the site in Banjarnegara, in central Java, where media footage showed a flood of mud and water cascading down a wooded mountain side.

    Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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