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At Least 200 People Feared Dead in Indonesian Landslide


Authorities in Indonesia say the death toll in a landslide in central Java Wednesday could rise above 200. The disaster comes days after floods killed at least 57 people in nearby east Java.

Rescuers are scrambling to reach people trapped under heavy mud and debris in the mountainside village of Cijeruk, in central Java. The landslide happened early Wednesday morning when most residents were either still asleep or performing morning prayers at the mosque.

Heavy downpours in recent days have caused flash floods and landslides in other parts of Indonesia this week. Rescuers are still searching for survivors from Monday's flash floods in east Java, which killed at least 57 people and left thousands homeless.

Hadi Kuswoyo, spokesman for the Indonesian Red Cross, says damaged roads and bridges are hampering rescue and relief operations in the affected areas. He says hygiene kits, blankets and medicines have been sent but more aid may be needed.

Mr. Kuswoyo says the Red Cross had tried to plan for disasters like these in the rainy season but the preparations have not been enough.

"In the last two months, the Indonesian Red Cross has coordinated with some agencies including the national disaster response of the government to identify some potential areas affected by the floods in the rainy season," he said. "But of course we never expect this will happen, that we will have a disaster like this. We can only identify and try to mitigate and also to educate the people in the dangerous areas."

Floods and landslides are common in Indonesia during the rainy season. However, some environmental groups blame recent disasters on deforestation caused by illegal logging.