Up to 70 people are feared dead
after being trapped under piles of mud when a landslide hit a village near the
Indonesian city of Bandung.
Heavy rain forced rescue efforts to
stop for the night but they resumed after lifting equipment arrived.
Before that, villagers tried to dig
victims out with their bare hands.
At least 16 people are known to be
dead in Tuesday’s landslide, which buried the village in the Ciwidey district
on the Java Island after days of rain.
About 600 villagers have been moved
to makeshift tents amid fears of further landslides because of the bad weather.
National Disaster Management Agency
spokesman Priyadi Kardono said another 15 people had been injured, two of whom
had been admitted to hospital.
“The landslide is very deep.
At this point, the chance of pulling out victims alive is slim,” said West
Java police spokesman Dade Ahmad.
About 500 rescuers, including officers
from the Brimob special police force, are searching for victims buried on the
tea plantation near Ciwidey village, about 22 miles southwest of Bandung city.
“We have six sniffer dogs on
site and rescuers are digging manually using hoes and light cutting equipment
to reach victims,” Mr Ahmad added.
Indonesian Vice-President Boediono
and several ministers are expected to visit the disaster area.
This region has been seeing
particularly heavy rains for the time of year, with scores of people escaping from
their homes to safety.
Landslides are common in Indonesia,
where years of deforestation can often leave hillsides vulnerable to collapse.
According to environmentalists,
tropical downpours can quickly soak hills stripped of vegetation which had held
the soil in place.