Landslides kill 77 on Indonesia’s Java Island


Jakarta : Landslides triggered by heavy downpour killed at least 77 people Wednesday in Indonesia’s densely populated Central Java province, officials and local media reports said.

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More than 12 hours of incessant rain triggered landslide in two districts of Central Java province, officials said.

The landslides buried dozens of homes in seven sub-districts of Central Java’s Karanganyar regency early Wednesday when most of the residents were asleep.

At least 61 people were buried alive in the disaster, said Joko Lumakso, spokesman of the local government administration. Other sources pushed the total to at least 77.

Rescue operations by the police, military officers and volunteers were hampered by slippery conditions and heavy rains, Lumakso said.

The Jakarta-based Metro TV private television reported that the death toll was likely to go higher. It said the landslides had cut off roads to the affected regions.

Tawangmangu sub-district, about 500 km southeast of Jakarta, was the worst affected region, where at least 37 people were buried alive by landslides, said Heru Kristianto, a rescue worker.

Heru said eight more bodies were recovered from under tonnes of earth with the use of heavy equipment that arrived at the scene.

He said 24 other fatalities were reported from landslides that occurred almost simultaneously early Wednesday through six more sub-districts, with all of the victims had been rescued.

“Rescue operation are now concentrated in Tawangmangu. We will continue with our search until all of the buried people are recovered,” Heru said.

In Wonogiri district, also in Central Java, at least 16 people were killed in landslides that took place at several villages of Tirtomoyo sub-district, said Wardjo, a worker with local Red Cross.

He said rescue workers were working to evacuate all of the bodies for burial.

Warjo, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said incessant rains also caused rivers in the region to overflow their banks, sweeping away several houses and damaging dozens others.

In the East Java district of Ngawi, rescue workers were searching for the bodies of four residents who were buried alive Tuesday in a landslide, the state-run Antara news agency reported.

Days of torrential rains caused rivers across Java and other islands to burst their banks, inundating tens of thousands of homes up to their rooftops.

Indonesia has been repeatedly hit by deadly landslides in recent years. Environmentalists have warned that logging and a failure to reforest denuded land is to blame.