Sat, 11 Nov 2000

800 landslides over the past 10 years

BANDUNG (JP): As many as 800 landslides have taken place across the archipelago over the past decade, killing at least 735 people, data collected by the directorate of geology and environment at the Ministry of Mine and Energy showed.

The head of the natural disaster office at the directorate, Sutikno, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the death toll did not include the 51 victims of the recent landslides in Purworejo, Central Java.

"Most of the landslides occurred in West Java, with a total of 240 victims," he said.

In general, there are between 56 and 80 landslides occurring in the country annually, he said. "Unfortunately, we are lacking funds to study the causes of these landslides. We are able to study only between 24 and 35 cases a year."

Asked if the landslide-affected villages in Purworejo are still suitable for inhabitation, Sutikno said technical conclusions had yet to be made. "Our men have not returned from Purworejo yet."

Purworejo Regent Marsaid had earlier suggested the villagers be relocated as the areas were no longer suitable to live in.

According to Sutikno, human activities were a significant factor in most landslides, although the main triggering factor was usually the rain.

"Mining and quarrying or building houses on the slopes can trigger landslides," he cited. (28/sur)