Rescuers find 1 more body after Indonesian landslide

AP News
Posted: Apr 03, 2017 9:38 AM

PONOROGO, Indonesia (AP) — Rescue teams using heavy equipment recovered another body Monday from a landslide that swept into a village on Indonesia's main island, bringing the number of retrieved bodies to three.

Officials estimate between 28 and 38 villagers are missing and believed buried by the landslide Saturday, which engulfed farmers harvesting ginger in Banaran village in East Java province's Ponorogo district.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the landslide stretched 1.5 kilometers (a mile) long and up to 20 meters (66 feet) high, and buried houses, overturned vehicles and left a massive scar on a hillside where lush vegetation was torn away.

Seventeen people were hospitalized, while about 100 others were able to escape.

Nugroho said a total of 1,655 rescuers from the disaster agency along with soldiers, police and volunteers searched Monday for the missing. Seven excavators were being used to dredge the mud, sand, rocks and fallen trees.

"Only one body was recovered on Monday," said Ponorogo army chief Lt. Col. Slamet Sarjianto, who earlier estimated that about 38 people were buried by the landslide. "It was a man but his identity is still not known."

The search was suspended earlier because of heavy rains and will be resumed Tuesday morning, said Sumani, the head of the local disaster agency, who uses one name.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelagic nation, is prone to landslides during seasonal rains. Many of the country's 256 million people live in mountainous areas or on fertile, flood-prone plains near rivers.