Indonesian Landslide Kills At Least 15, As Rescuers Desperately Search For Survivors

Soldiers, police and residents are searching in the mud for possible victims of a landslide caused by torrential rain that killed at least 15 Indonesian villagers and left 34 others missing.

Tons of mud that rolled from the surrounding hills late on Monday buried 30 houses in Sirnaresmi village of West Java's Sukabumi district.

More than 500 rescuers initially retrieved eight bodies from mounds of mud and pulled out four injured people, including an infant who died in the hospital.

On Wednesday, emergency crews discovered at six more bodies buried under the mud from the monstrous landslide, taking the death toll to 15.

Sixty people who were displaced have fled to a temporary shelter, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Indonesian villagers and rescuers search for landslide victims at Sirnaresmi village in Sukabumi, Indonesia, 01 January 2019. Image:  EPA/STR

They are still searching for 34 villagers said to still be missing.

Authorities struggled to get tractors and other heavy equipment over washed-out roads as heavy rain was hampering search efforts, Nugroho said.

Television footage showed hundreds of police, soldiers and residents digging through debris with their hands, shovels and hoes.

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Image: EPA/STR

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"Lack of equipment, bad weather and blackout hampered our rescue efforts for those who are still missing and feared dead," Nugroho said.

Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains near rivers.

The landslide occurred during New Year's Eve celebrations less than two weeks after a deadly volcano and tsunami disaster.

Feature Image: AP Photo