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Landslides in Indonesia: Dozens missing

JAKARTA, Indonesia –

Rescuers were searching for 42 people still missing Tuesday after two landslides triggered by heavy rains hit villages on an island in Indonesia’s remote Natuna region, disaster officials said.

Dozens of soldiers, police and volunteers joined the search in the villages of Genting and Pangkalan, a remote island surrounded by remote waters and high waves in the Natuna group on the edge of the South China Sea. 42 people are reported to be trapped in 27 houses buried under tons of mud in the surrounding hills.

Natuna’s disaster agency lowered the death toll from 11 to 10 on Tuesday morning, despite fears it could rise. It said on its website that rescuers had pulled eight injured people from the landslides, four of whom were in critical condition, and had been rushed to a hospital in Pontianak, on the island of Borneo, about 285 kilometers (180 miles) away.

The landslides displaced more than 1,200 people who were moved to evacuation centers and other shelters.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said authorities were still gathering information on the full extent of casualties and damage in the affected areas. He said two helicopters and several boats carrying rescue workers and relief supplies, including tents, blankets, food and medical teams, had left from Jakarta and nearby islands.

“The distribution of relief supplies has been difficult because the injured and displaced are spread out and hard to reach,” Muhari said, and the search and rescue operation has been hampered by rainy weather around the disaster site, destroyed communication lines and a lack of heavy equipment. .

In recent days, seasonal rains and high tides have caused dozens of landslides and floods across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile floodplains near rivers.

In November 2022, a landslide triggered by a 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Siangjur, West Java, killed at least 335 people, about a third of whom were children.

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