Secondary landslides hamper rescue efforts in West Java

Rescue workers carrying a body bag in Sukabumi, which was hit by a landslide on Monday. At least 15 people had been found dead and 20 people were still missing by Tuesday night, but search and rescue efforts were impeded by four secondary landslides.
Rescue workers carrying a body bag in Sukabumi, which was hit by a landslide on Monday. At least 15 people had been found dead and 20 people were still missing by Tuesday night, but search and rescue efforts were impeded by four secondary landslides.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA • Secondary landslides were impeding search and rescue efforts at a landslide that caused fatalities this week in Sukabumi, West Java, where 20 people are still missing after 66 were saved, including three with serious injuries.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the search and rescue team had to deal with four secondary landslides in the area on Tuesday that were triggered by torrential rain.

"The fragile soil is quite dangerous for the team, especially when it rains," he said in a statement yesterday. Due to the risk, he said, the team had to stop their activity on Tuesday and would resume yesterday.

He added that the disaster area had been marked as a zone prone to landslides on a Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) map, which showed land movement risks in Sukabumi. Thirty-three sub-districts in Sukabumi are categorised as prone to landslides, meaning that land movement could occur during strong rainfall.

Dr Nugroho noted that by Tuesday night, at least 15 people had been found dead, 20 people were missing and 30 houses had been buried by the Monday landslide.

Meanwhile, Mr Kasbani, head of the CVGHM, said he had deployed the land movement response team to the site to conduct disaster evaluations, assess the risk of secondary landslides and provide technical advice for the rescue effort.

Indonesia is a disaster-prone archipelago that last year suffered its deadliest year in over a decade with a series of earthquakes and tsunamis in different regions which killed more than 3,000 people.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'Secondary landslides hamper rescue efforts in West Java'. Print Edition | Subscribe