Indonesia landslide toll rises to 21 as rescuers search for missing

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This handout photo taken on January 13, 2021 and released by Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows rescuers searching for victims after landslides killed at least 21 people and scores more were missing in Sumedang, West Java province. (Photo by HANDOUT / Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) / AFP) /

Indonesian rescuers dug through mud Wednesday as they scrambled to find survivors from weekend landslides caused by torrential rains, as the death toll rose to 21 and 19 others were listed as missing.

A landslide struck the village of Sumedang in West Java Saturday night, followed hours later by a second that engulfed rescuers digging for survivors.

The death toll has nearly doubled from the 11 deaths reported on Sunday.

And 19 residents are still missing, including a half dozen children, but the chance of finding any of them alive was slim, said Bandung rescue agency spokeswoman Seni Wulandari.

“We are still stepping up efforts to find their bodies,” she added.

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 estimates that 125 million Indonesians — nearly half the country’s population — live in areas at risk of landslides.