Sat, 26 Feb 2000

Death toll rises to 10 in Central Java landslide

BREBES, Central Java (JP): Rescue workers recovered on Friday the body of another victim of Wednesday night's landslide in Windu Sakti village, raising the number of confirmed dead to 10.

The latest victim was identified as either Sumanto or Suwanto, who was believed to be in his mid-30s.

His body was washed away by Margasari River and was discovered some seven kilometers from where the landslide occurred.

Efforts to locate another 26 people still missing in the incident were slowed and sometimes halted on Friday due to heavy rains, which raised fears of more landslides.

"The Panyeuyan hills and surrounding land are prone to landslides during heavy rains. The land shakes now and then," a rescuer said.

Rescuers said an equivalent of about two-hectares of land slid down Kukuncung hill and through the village of Windu Sakti at midnight on Wednesday.

A separate landslide also was reported in neighboring Gunung Jaya village on Thursday, leaving one person dead. The deceased has not yet been identified.

All 240 residents of Gunung Jaya village have been evacuated to neighboring villages, including the village of Tembong Raja where residents of Windu Sakti also are being sheltered.

Tembong Raja is approximately nine kilometers south of Windu Sakti.

Central Java Governor Mardiyanto has pledged Rp 15 million to aid the villagers.

Brebes Regent Tajuddin Nuraly earlier said his office had allocated Rp 10 million to help the villagers, while the district administration office donated Rp 5 million in cash and medical supplies.

Public kitchens have been set up to assist the landslide survivors and residents of neighboring villages have donated food and clothes.

A new concern is that the mud from the landslide has blocked most waterways, causing them to flood the surrounding areas. Six districts reportedly have been flooded.

In the districts of Larangan, Brebes and Wanasari as many as 3,000 houses have been inundated.

The water level has reached almost one meter in many spots, Atmotansidiq, a Brebes regency employee, said.

The flood waters also have destroyed an estimated 20,000 hectares of rice and onion fields.

Atmotansidiq said Regent Tajuddin Nuraly blamed deforestation for the landslide.

The regent had reportedly asked the local office of the Ministry of Forestry to replant the forest in the area.

A landslide also occurred in Klaten regency on Friday, leaving two people dead.

Klaten Police chief Lt. Col. Mustofa Hari Kuncoro identified the two victims as Mrs. Wiyono, 40, and Sudiyono, 25, both residents of Kendalsari village.

"The bodies are still buried in the mud. We need heavy equipment to unearth them," Mustofa said.

Torrential rains were blamed for the landslide. (45/har/edt/sur)