Indonesia calls off deadly landslide search, 18 believed dead

Rescuers searching for victims at the site of a landslide in Brebes, central Java, in Indonesia, on Feb 23, 2018.
Rescuers searching for victims at the site of a landslide in Brebes, central Java, in Indonesia, on Feb 23, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (AFP) - The search for six people still missing after a deadly landslide in Indonesia has been called off, officials said on Wednesday (Feb 28), bringing the presumed death toll to 18.

An avalanche of mud and rock cascaded down a steep slope in central Java last week, burying victims as they worked their rice fields.

Hundreds of rescuers, including members of the army, police and local community, have spent the past seven days digging through the debris to find victims buried in the deadly slide.

Twelve people are confirmed to have died while another six remain missing, officials said, adding that another 18 survived the disaster.

"The search operation is officially closed, but if there are further developments then we will return," said Mr Zulhawary Agustianto, a spokesman for Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency.

The disaster followed several days of heavy rain in the mountainous area, about seven hours east of the capital Jakarta.

Flooding triggered by the deluge also killed three people in the nearby district of Losari, authorities said.

 

Mr Agustianto said heavy rain and small landslides had made the search dangerous.

Landslides are common in Indonesia, especially during wet season between October and April, when rain lashes the country.