JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers were searching for 42 people still missing on Tuesday following two landslides triggered by torrential rains in island villages in Indonesia’s remote Natuna region, disaster officials said.
Dozens of soldiers, police and volunteers joined the search operation in the towns of Genting and Pangkalan on a remote island surrounded by choppy waters and high waves in Natuna, on the edge of the South China Sea. There were reports of 42 people trapped in 27 homes which were engulfed by tons of mud from nearby hills.
The Natuna Disaster Management Agency lowered the confirmed death toll from 11 to 10 on Tuesday morning, despite fears it could rise later. On its website, the agency said rescuers pulled eight injured people from the mud, four of whom were in serious condition, and taken them to a hospital in the town of Pontianak on the island of Borneo, about 285 kilometers away. (180 miles). miles away.
The avalanches displaced more than 1,200 people who were taken to evacuation centers and other shelters.
Authorities were still collecting information on the number of casualties and damage in the affected areas, said Abdul Muhari, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.
Two helicopters and several boats carrying rescuers and aid supplies such as tents, blankets, food and medical kits left Jakarta and neighboring islands, he added.
“Relief distribution has been difficult as the injured and displaced are scattered and hard to reach,” Muhari said. Additionally, the search and rescue operation was complicated by rains in the area, loss of communications and lack of heavy equipment.
In recent days, seasonal rains and high tides have triggered dozens of landslides and floods across much of an archipelago of 17,000 islands where millions live in mountainous areas or on fertile plains. on the banks of the rivers.
At least 335 people – about a third of them children – have died in the town of Cianjur, West Java, in a landslide triggered by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake.