Rescuers search for survivors in deadly Indonesian landslide

Villagers and rescuers search for landslide victims at Sirnaresmi village in Sukabumi, Indonesia, on Jan 1, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (AFP) - Rescuers are searching for survivors after a landslide triggered by heavy rain left at least nine people dead and dozens missing in western Indonesia, an official said Tuesday (Jan 1).

The landslide occurred shortly before sunset on Monday in West Java province. Search and rescue teams have found nine people dead and are scouring the area for at least 34 missing people according to the national disaster agency.

Pouring rain, electricity cuts and rough roads are preventing heavy machinery from accessing the area in Sukabumi regency, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

"Relief efforts have also been hampered by a lot of people who want to get to the disaster," he said. "The roads are narrow which has caused rescue teams, logistics and ambulances to be stuck in traffic jams."

The search operation was halted overnight but continued Tuesday morning.

Four people have been injured in the disaster and 60 others evacuated from the area, Nugroho said.

Landslides are common in Indonesia, a vast tropical archipelago prone to natural disasters and torrential downpours.

More than 20 people died in October when flash floods and landslides hit several provinces on Sumatra island, western Indonesia.

In June 2016, nearly 50 people died when floods and landslides struck Banjarnegara regency, Central Java province.

Indonesia is frequently stricken by landslides and floods during heavy rain season.

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