Indonesia landslide buries dozens of people | News | DW | 02.04.2017
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Indonesia landslide buries dozens of people

Heavy rains and cars blocking the roads hampered rescue efforts in Indonesia after a deadly landslide on East Java. Many of those missing were working on ginger farms when the hillside gave way.

Non-stop rain on Sunday prevented rescuers from continuing their search for people still missing after the landslide. Debris up to 20 meters (66 feet) high was being searched with mechanical diggers. The landslide was 800 meters long and had overturned vehicles, destroyed and buried buildings.

At least two people were killed and 26 feared buried after a landslide hit 32 houses in the village of Banaran in Ponorogo district, East Java, on Saturday morning. The chief of staff of the local army, Lt. Col. Jemz Ratu Edo, said on Sunday that two bodies had been found before the search was suspended for the day. 

Indonesien Erdrutsch in Ponorogo (Reuters/Antara Foto/Zabur Karuru)

Rescuers searched for survivors after Saturday morning's landslide

Sutopo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said: "The challenge is the road to the disaster zone is very narrow...and there are many cars now because people want to watch, so they interrupt or hinder the mobility of the team."  

Government officials went on motor bikes to inspect the damage on Sunday:

A team of 1,655 people have been deployed to search for people buried in the landslide. After two people were confirmed dead, a further 26 - or more - were still missing on Sunday. Lt. Col. Slamet Sarijanto said that according to villagers, 38 people were buried by the landslide.

Residents had defied an evacuation order from the night before to harvest crops, authorities said. The landslide overturned vehicles, shattered and buried buildings, and left a massive scar on a hillside where lush vegetation had been torn away.

Nugroho said residents had been warned about the threat of a landslide by local authorities and evacuated the area the night before. But they returned in the early morning to work, many of them harvesting ginger on a hillside when they were hit.

Widespread flooding triggered several deadly landslides in Indonesia in mid-2016.

aw,jm/rc (AP, AFP)