June 20, 2006

Landslides and floods kill 51 in Indonesia

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Landslides and floods on Indonesia's
eastern Sulawesi island have killed 51 people and the toll
could rise, an official said on Wednesday.

A search-and-rescue operation was under way after two days
of heavy rain in several areas in South Sulawesi province.
Sinjai regency was the worst-hit area after major flooding
early on Tuesday, rescuers and police said.

"There are now 51 people dead," Saktianto, a communications
officer for the search-and-rescue operation, said from South
Sulawesi's capital Makassar, about 1,400 km (870 miles) east of

The toll could rise, he said, but had no details on the
number of people missing.

Torrential rains and landslides are regular features of
tropical Indonesia. Rampant deforestation often adds to the
ease with which hillsides are saturated and collapse,
environmentalists say.