Sat, 05 Mar 2005

Two die in fresh landslide in Bandung's Punclut area

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post/Bandung

Another landslide took place in Bandung regency, this time near the controversial Punclut resort area, killing two people on Friday.

The victims, 44-year-old Ade Ana and 35-year-old Daman, were buried by the 30-meter deep landslide. As of Friday afternoon, the victims' bodies had still not been recovered due to the inaccessibility of the area.

A survivor, Dasep Ruchiyat, said the disaster happened as he and two of his friends were repairing a water pipe on a hill at Babakan Bandung hamlet, Pagerwangi village, Lembang, only a kilometer away from his home in Sukasirna hamlet.

"Hundreds of Sukasirna residents have been without water for days. That's why we decided to find out the cause of the problem. In the end, we found out that the pipe at Babakan Bandung was blocked," said Dasep, who is still suffering from pain to his right side after being buried up to his neck for 10 minutes.

The landslide occurred as the three tried to fix the pipe. Unlike Dasep, his two friends were unable to escape.

Punclut is a water catchment area in North Bandung that, despite protests, might be developed as a tourism and business center, which local people and environmental activists fear might worsen flooding during the rainy season.

Bandung Regent Obar Sobarna admitted there was 528 landslide- prone points within his jurisdiction. Of these, 145 were high risk, 263 medium risk and 120 low risk.

Friday's landslide brings the total number of people to have died as a result of landslides or similar disasters in Bandung regency since Feb. 21 to 148.

The biggest disaster was when a mountain of trash at the Leuwigajah dump collapsed and buried 70 houses and some 143 people. Three more people died in landslides in Pangalengan, south Bandung, and in Jayagiri, Lembang.

"We've spent Rp 9 billion out of the Rp 12 billion allocated in the regental budget on assisting the landslide victims," he said on Friday.

He claimed he had repeatedly told residents living in landslide-prone areas to be on the alert for landslides or to relocate to safer areas to avoid such disasters.





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