Saturday, 13 December 2014

More than 100 feared dead after Indonesia landslide

More than 100 Indonesian villagers are feared to have died after a landslide triggered by torrential rain obliterated their rural community in Central Java.

Rescue workers were using their bare hands to claw through thick mud in search of survivors on Saturday after Jemblung village was swallowed up by a cascade of earth at around 6pm the previous day.

"It was like a nightmare," a survivor called Wahono, told the Associated Press.

"We suddenly heard a terrible roar and we were immediately fleeing from the rain of red soil. Many failed and they were buried in the ground." Imam, another survivor, told local television: "There was a roaring sound like thunder. Then I saw trees were flying and then the landslides."

By Saturday afternoon, 18 bodies had reportedly found buried under the mud or in the wreckage of smashed homes. They were removed from the area in orange and black body bags. Another 90 people were missing, feared dead, officials said.

"Rescuers are still trying to find more victims," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in a statement.

"The challenge is that the evacuation route is also damaged by the landslide."

*Attempts to evacuate survivors from the area had begun on Friday night but were suspended because of the risk of further landslides, according to Pos Kota, an Indonesian newspaper.* *The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management* had ordered police, military and volunteers into the area but a lack of communications was also hampering the rescue effort, reported Indonesia's *Antara News. * "The threat of possible repeat of the landslide at the scene is still hampering the search and rescue operation," the official told Xinhua, China's official news agency.

The national disaster agency said 15 people had been rescued. Eleven of those had to be hospitalized. The agency said hundreds of people, including police, soldiers and residents are digging through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes searching for the missing.

More rain Saturday has hampered rescue efforts. Some heavy equipment has been brought in to help with the search.

The rainy season has begun in Indonesia, a time when landslides triggered by heavy downfalls and floods are common.

Few nations suffer more from the effects of natural disasters than Indonesia. Landslides are common during the October until April monsoon season and the country also suffers from volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and flooding.

The Indonesian city of Banda Aceh was ravished by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed almost 230,000 lives. The Boxing Day 2004 disaster was caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Saturday 13 December 2014


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