WEEKEND OF MISERY: Indonesia

Rescuers race to reach victims of landslides and flooding

Rescue teams searching for victims of a landslide in Purworejo, Central Java. The national disaster mitigation agency has warned people in the province of the threat of more floods and landslides.
Rescue teams searching for victims of a landslide in Purworejo, Central Java. The national disaster mitigation agency has warned people in the province of the threat of more floods and landslides.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Parts of Indonesia and China were battered by heavy rain over the weekend, triggering floods and landslides which have left scores dead. Officials blamed the extremely foul weather on the aftermath of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

JAKARTA • The Indonesian authorities were racing yesterday to rescue victims of landslides and flash floods caused by torrential rain at the weekend that killed nearly 50 people and left 15 missing on the main island of Java.

Search and rescue teams were using earth movers and bulldozers to clear debris in several locations in Central Java province after heavy rain damaged thousands of homes and forced residents to evacuate.

"Around 200 people... in joint teams from the military, police, NGOs and volunteers are continuing to search for victims," Mr Sutopo Nugroho, a spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

He added that 47 people had died and 15 remained missing.

The authorities said that the affected area in Java, which is the most densely populated island in the country, was particularly prone to landslides.

About 16 districts and towns were affected by the floods and landslides including Purworejo, Banjarnegara, Kendal and Sragen.

"The public is advised to remain on high alert for heavy rain and potential for floods and landslides," Mr Nugroho said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said the authorities were looking at evacuation plans for residents who could be threatened by further landslides, the website of Elshinta radio reported yesterday.

About 16 districts and towns were affected by the floods and landslides, including Purworejo, Banjarnegara, Kendal and Sragen.

In Kebuen district, a landslide on Saturday in the village of Dukuh Pohkumbang buried three houses and destroyed two more, with six people left missing, the Antara news agency reported.

Rescuers were digging through the mud to look for survivors.

Officials say rescuers at times have had to walk for several kilometres to reach the inundated villages as roads to the sites were cut off by landslides.

The lack of access also means rescuers cannot haul in heavy equipment to clear the debris.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Rescuers race to reach victims of landslides and flooding'. Print Edition | Subscribe