Sunday, 21 December 2014

Banjarnegara ends search for landslide victims

The search for victims of the landslide in Banjarnegara regency, Central Java, was brought to an end on Sunday, with the official death toll standing at 95 with 13 people still listed as missing.

The search-and-rescue (SAR) joint team recovered the remains of the last two victims on Sunday; however, the bodies were too badly decomposed for the team to identify them.

Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said bad weather was among the reasons that had led the provincial administration to call a halt to the search for victims of the landslide in Jemblung hamlet, Karangkobar district, Banjarnegara.

“The rain has been falling incessantly, causing many of the SAR team members to fear for their safety while carrying out their duties in the field. They are afraid that there will be more landslides. We have paid close attention to those concerns for the sake of their safety,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Ganjar said most of bodies found during the search were badly decomposed as the disaster occurred around 10 days ago. Not only did this complicate the identification process, the decomposed bodies were hazardous to the health of SAR team members and volunteers.

“So, based on agreement with all parties, including Jemblung residents, we have officially stopped the search for victims today,” Ganjar said.

He said the administration would permit Jemblung residents who wished to continue the search to do so as long as it was conducted safely.

“The principle is, the safety of landslide survivors should be a higher priority,” he said.

Separately, search coordinator, Col. Edi Rohmatulloh, said the team had found the wrecks of several vehicles. “There are 14 motorcycles and 15 cars,” he said, adding that most of the vehicles belonged to Banjarnegara residents. A Suzuki APV car with a Bandung, West Java, registration was located at the incident site but its owner remained unknown.

During the massive landslide in Jemblung hamlet on Dec.12, over 100 people were buried when a hill collapsed. Many victims were found on a village road under around 100 meters of thick mud.

Landslides triggered by heavy rain and floods are common in tropical Indonesia during the rainy season.

The national disaster agency estimates around half the country's 250 million population lives in areas prone to landslides.

The vast Indonesian archipelago is one of the world's most disaster-prone nations. Apart from landslides, it is also frequently hit by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Sunday 21 December 2014


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