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Persistent Rain Stops Search for Indonesia Landslide Victims

  • Associated Press

Rescuers inspect the damage in a neighborhood hit by a landslide in the village of Banaran, Ponorogo, East Java, Indonesia, April 1, 2017. More than two dozen people were reported missing Saturday after the rain-triggered landslide struck a village on Indonesia's main island of Java.

Incessant rains Sunday halted the search for at least two dozen people missing after a landslide swept into a village on Indonesia’s main island of Java.

Four excavators working under cloudy skies dredged the mud, sand and rocks, pilling the debris up to 20 meters (66 feet) high.

Chief of staff of the local army, Lt. Col. Jemz Ratu Edo, said two bodies were discovered before the search was suspended because of heavy rain. One body had been found Saturday.

The landslide hit 23 houses and farmers harvesting ginger in Banaran village in East Java province’s Ponorogo district.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency, said 27 people were missing, while the local army chief, Lt. Col. Slamet Sarijanto, said that according to villagers, 38 people were buried by the landslide.

Rescuers from the disaster agency along with soldiers, police officers and volunteers are searching for the missing. Access to the site was hampering the effort.

The landslide, 800 meters (half a mile) long and 20 meters (66 feet) high, according to Nugroho, overturned vehicles, shattered and buried buildings, and left a massive scar on a hillside where lush vegetation had been torn away.

Seasonal rains cause frequent floods in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, where many of the country’s 256 million people live in mountainous areas or fertile, flood-prone plains near rivers.