Search for missing victims in Sabah and Indonesia

Indonesian soldiers and rescuers yesterday removing the body of a victim in Banaran, a village in Ponorogo district, East Java, which was hit by a landslide the day before.
Indonesian soldiers and rescuers yesterday removing the body of a victim in Banaran, a village in Ponorogo district, East Java, which was hit by a landslide the day before.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

KOTA KINABALU/JAKARTA • Seven people were missing after a landslide hit workers' quarters in an oil palm estate in the interior Sook district of Sabah.

The missing - two 17-year-old girls, two 13-year-old boys and three eight-year-old children - were among 11 people in a riverside wooden house that was hit by the landslide on Saturday.

Sabah Civil Defence Department director Kol Mulliadi Al-Hamdi Ladin said yesterday that the victims were believed to be Filipino workers and their family members.

"We received a distress call from the estate owner at 12.19pm on the incident and sent our team to the area, but they could not proceed because the bridge to the estate was damaged," he said.

He added that four other estate workers - a man, a woman, a boy and a girl - were found safe by their fellow workers following the landslide.

 

The incident was believed to have been triggered by a mud flood.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Indonesia, rescuers were searching for the missing after at least two people were killed and 26 feared buried under heavy mud after pummelling rain brought down a 100m-high hill in Indonesia.

Nineteen people were also injured when the landslide slammed into 32 houses in the village of Banaran in Ponorogo district, East Java, on Saturday morning.

Search and rescue teams were searching for the missing under a blanket of mud as thick as 5m, but heavy rain yesterday afternoon forced them to stop, said a spokesman for the national disaster agency.

"The challenge is the road to the disaster zone is very narrow... and there are many cars now because people want to watch, so they interrupt or hinder the mobility of the team," spokesman Sutopo Purno Nugroho said yesterday.

The disaster, said Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa, was the result of a lack of area for land cover as well as environmental degradation.

Villagers were warned about potential landslides two weeks ago and evacuated the area at night, but many returned to the village the next morning. Many of the missing people were working on ginger farms when the landslide struck.

This year alone, 20 people have died in landslides in Indonesia, the disaster agency noted.

Last September, nearly 30 people died in heavy flooding and landslides in Garut, West Java.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STAR AND THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Search for missing victims in Sabah and Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe