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Scores Feared Dead in Indonesian Landslide

January 04, 2006|From Times Wire Services

CIJERUK, Indonesia — Scores of people were missing and feared dead after a landslide triggered by monsoon rains buried a Javan village under tons of mud and rock, officials said today.

Most residents of Cijeruk were at home sleeping or performing early morning Muslim prayers when the landslide tumbled from a nearby mountain onto more than 100 houses, local government officials said.

Many were probably praying in the village mosque at the time, and Broto Suyatno, a police officer from the nearby town of Banjarnegara, said, "We have reports the mosque was flattened."

He said about 500 of the 722 people in the village in Central Java province had been reported alive in the wake of the disaster.

"Ten victims have been found dead, and there could be many more because more than 100 houses are buried in mud," Yusman Irianto, head of the social department in Banjarnegara, said by telephone from the scene, about 220 miles east of Jakarta, the national capital.

Budi Warityo, a police officer in Cijeruk, said only 12 people had been rescued.

"The rest of the villagers are feared to be buried under the mud," he said by telephone from the scene.

Meanwhile in eastern Java, rescuers tried to find survivors of a series of landslides and flash floods that killed at least 63 people and left dozens missing earlier this week, officials said.

Six more bodies were recovered today, said Edi Susilo, a local government spokesman.

The mud and water destroyed bridges and roads in Jember district in East Java.

Heavy tropical downpours cause dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, where millions of people live in mountainous regions and near rivers' flood plains.

Many landslides are blamed on illegal logging or the clearing of farmland that strips away natural barriers to such disasters

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