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Indonesia landslide kills 16, scores more feared dead - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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SIJERUK, Indonesia (Reuters) -A landslide triggered by heavy rains crashed into a village in Indonesia’s Central Java province on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and possibly trapping scores more under debris, officials said.

The disaster followed landslides in neighboring East Java province earlier this week that killed at least 77 people.

Wednesday’s pre-dawn landslide smashed into hundreds of houses in the mountainous village of Sijeruk, home to around 700 people. Many were probably praying in a mosque at the time of the landslide, police said, adding that the mosque was destroyed.

Local media reported about 90 villagers were still missing.

Eko Budi Raharjo, spokesman for the local government who was at the scene, said 102 homes had been buried under tonnes of mud.

“People are still in a panic. They screamed earlier today when there was another landslide, but it was not too big.”

It was unclear how many people had survived, Raharjo said. At least 13 people were injured and had been taken to hospital.

Rescue workers called off efforts to find more victims late in the afternoon because of heavy rains.

Earlier, they moved two excavators and two bulldozers into the village to start shifting debris.

Thousands of onlookers from other areas crowded around the perimeter of the destroyed village, where mud up to 6 meters (20 feet) high encased the remains of many homes.

Police in the nearby town of Banjarnegara, 350 km (220 miles) east of Jakarta, said about 500 of the 722 people in Sijeruk village had been reported alive after the disaster.

“It happened around dawn, when people usually go to the mosque to pray. We have reports the mosque was flattened, so there may be more casualties,” said officer Broto Suyatno.

Floods and landslides are common in Indonesia, especially at this time of the year during the wet season. Many landslides are caused by illegal logging or the clearing of farmland that strips away natural barriers to such disasters.

Around the East Java village of Kemiri, hundreds of rescue workers and soldiers have been trying to reach a handful of villages still cut off by floods and landslides that swept through the area late on Sunday.

Officials on Wednesday put the death toll there at 77, including two rescue workers who drowned in swollen rivers.

Muhammad Suryadi, a member of the state disaster management agency in the nearby town of Jember 800 km (500 miles) east of Jakarta, said rescuers were trying to reach the cut-off areas.

Most of the villagers in the Kemiri area live on coffee plantations and river banks where many trees had been felled.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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