January 4, 2006

Indonesia landslide kills 10, many more feared dead

By Achmad Sukarsono

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A landslide triggered by heavy rains
crashed into a village in Indonesia's Central Java province on
Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and trapping many more
under muddy debris, an official said.

The pre-dawn landslide, the latest in a series on Java
island that killed 71 people earlier this week, smashed into
hundreds of houses in a mountainous village of around 700

Many were probably praying in the village mosque at the
time of the landslide, police said, adding that the mosque was

"Ten victims have been found dead and there could be many
more because more than 100 houses are buried in mud," Yusman
Irianto, head of the social department in the nearby town of
Banjarnegara, said by telephone from the scene.

"We are looking for more victims and residents are trying
to find out how many are missing."

Police in Banjarnegara, 350 km (220 miles) east of Jakarta,
put the death toll so far at four and said a dozen were

Broto Suyatno, a police officer from Banjarnegara, said
about 500 of the 722 people in the Central Java village had
been reported alive in the wake of 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," he said.

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

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 71,
including two rescue workers who drowned in swollen rivers.

"Up until now, 71 have died and rescuers are trying to
reach the cut-off areas," said Muhammad Suryadi, a member of
the state disaster management agency in the nearby town of
Jember, 800 km (500 miles) east of Jakarta.

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

(Additional reporting by Ade Rina)