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Two landslides kill at least 11 people in Indonesia

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This handout photo taken early on January 10, 2021 and released by Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows rescuers searching for survivors after landslides killed at least 11 people, including a six-year-old boy, with scores more missing in Sumedang, West Java province. — AFP

JAKARTA: Set off by heavy rainfall and unstable soil, two landslides killed at least 11 people in Java, Indonesia’s most populous island.

Rescue workers were searching for survivors, disaster officials said on Sunday.

Among those killed in the landslides in West Java Province were the head of a local disaster relief agency and an Indonesian Army captain who had gone to help rescue survivors from the first landslide on Saturday afternoon. They were caught in a second landslide that evening, said  a foreign news agency report.

A six-year-old boy was also reported to be among those killed.

The landslides also destroyed a bridge and cut off several roads in the West Java village of Cihanjuang. Rescuers worked into the night but faced an urgent need for heavy machinery to help move earth and reach any possible survivors.

“We’re still documenting how many are missing after the second landslide because there were many people who joined the original rescue effort,” said Bandung rescue agency spokeswoman Seni Wulandari.

At least one survivor was seriously injured, while 11 people were confirmed dead, Wulandari said.

Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across the Indonesian archipelago, where seasonal downpours are frequent and relentless.

In September last year, at least 11 people were killed in landslides on Borneo island while a few months earlier, landslides in Sulawesi killed dozens.

Indonesia’s disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians — nearly half the country’s population — live in areas at risk of landslides.

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