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Several killed after landslides hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island

In News, World
April 14, 2024

Emergency response efforts have been complicated by poor weather conditions and damaged roads brought about by the disaster.

At least 15 people have been found dead and two others missing after landslides hit central Indonesia, say the local authorities.

At least 17 victims were evacuated from the landslides that hit Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi province on Saturday evening, local disaster agency head Sulaiman Maila said on Sunday.

“Two of them survived while 15 others sadly passed away,” Maila told the AFP news agency.

“According to reports from residents, there are still two individuals reported missing, presumably buried under the landslide debris,” he said, adding that rescue efforts were ongoing.

Tana Toraja and its surrounding areas have been experiencing heavy rainfall for the past week, he added.

The landslides, triggered by heavy rains, affected two villages in the region and destroyed four homes, Abdul Muhari, the spokesperson for the country’s disaster mitigation agency, said in a statement.

The affected areas are hilly and difficult for rescuers to reach. Photos provided by officials showed rescuers trawling through the rubble for survivors, with homes reduced to planks of wood and concrete.

According to local police chief Gunardi Mundu, mud fell from surrounding hills onto four houses in Tana Toraja just before midnight on Saturday, burying parts of the village. He said a family gathering was being held in one of the houses when the disaster hit.

Indonesia’s rainy season began in January, with the meteorological agency forecasting a peak within the first quarter of 2024.

Poor weather conditions and damage to roads in the affected areas complicated emergency response efforts, making it difficult for vehicles to evacuate victims, the disaster mitigation agency’s spokesperson said.

Indonesia’s Tempo newspaper said the rescuers urgently needed heavy equipment to help clear roads for ambulances to evacuate the victims.

Located in the centre of Sulawesi island, the mountainous region of Tana Toraja is about 300km (186 miles) from the provincial capital, Makassar.

Last month, floods and landslides killed at least 26 people on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, with torrential rains destroying hundreds of homes, and displacing thousands.

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