Asia

Indonesia landslide: 20 dead and dozens still missing

Villagers dig out a motorcycle buried in the mud after a landslide hit the village of Sampang in Banjarnegara, December 13, 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescuers, including local residents, are still hoping to find survivors

Authorities in Indonesia say heavy lifting equipment is now being used to search for more than 80 people missing in a landslide in central Java.

At least 20 people died and dozens were injured in the incident in Jemblung village on Friday.

The search has been hampered by heavy rain and difficulty accessing the disaster site.

Flash floods and fatal landslides triggered by seasonal downpours are common in Indonesia.

Rescuers were forced to dig with their bare hands until tractors and bulldozers arrived on Sunday.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the country's national disaster agency, said some of the roads leading to the site had been cleared.

"Today the search for survivors will be carried out using heavy excavation equipment. The landslide has blocked road access since yesterday", he said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Landslides are common in Indonesia during the rainy season, with around half the population at risk

Over 1,000 rescuers, including police and soldiers, are involved in the operation.

Disaster agency officials said at least 11 people were seriously injured and in hospital.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is due to travel to the area on Sunday to meet survivors.

"I am in grief over the landslide that struck Jemblung village," he said in a statement.

"Landslides can be a lesson to us, on the importance of maintaining environmental balance," he added.

The country's national disaster agency said hundreds of houses had been destroyed by the landslide, with almost 600 residents moved to temporary shelters.

Many of the inhabitants of the chain of 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

Authorities say around half the population is at risk from landslides.

Related Topics

More on this story