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Heavy Rain, Landslides Destroy Indonesian Villages


Indonesian rescue crews are searching for survivors of landslides on Indonesia's Java island. Officials say at least 120 people are dead or missing. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta.

In the worst hit area, monsoon rains caused mudslides and severe flooding during the night Wednesday, while people slept.

Most of the victims were killed in a single landslide in a densely populated mountainous region of Central Java, about 480-kilometers east of the capital, Jakarta.

Hundreds of rescue workers have been deployed, but many roads and bridges to affected areas are blocked.

Soaked and muddy residents are trying to recover belongings and take care of basic needs. One witness describes rescuers using hand tools to dig through mud up to nine meters deep.

Nar, a woman whose home was destroyed, says she doesn't know how she will feed her family. She says people do not know where to evacuate, or where to get food. She says there in no rice in the area after the mudslide, and because the government shelters are already full, no one knows where to go.

Landslides are frequent in Indonesia, where years of deforestation have left many hillsides with little vegetation to hold the soil.

Director of Indonesia's Geological Disaster Mitigation Center, Surono, says the worst hit area has been on the country's highest alert for landslides. He says the affected district has been known to have the greatest risk of landslides in Indonesia, and now it has happened. He adds that monitoring stations there reported unusually heavy rainfall over two days, which triggered the disaster.

Police fear many more people are dead following a bridge collapse in East Java.

Strong currents are hampering the search for victims.

The rainy season is expected to last through the end of February.

A year ago, flooding and landslides killed more than 100 people and drove an estimated 100,000 more from their homes in north Sumatra Island.