Death toll rises to 21 in Indonesia landslide

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Death toll rises to 21 in Indonesia landslide

The death toll was brought to 21, as rescuers recovered more bodies from a landslide that hit a hilly village in Indonesia's remote Natuna islands plunged down the surrounding hills on Monday, killing 30 houses in Genting village on a tiny remote island in the Natuna archipelago at the edge of the South China Sea, the National Search and Rescue Agency said on Thursday.

More than 200 rescuers from the search and rescue agency, police and military have been sent to search for 33 people still missing who were apparently trapped in houses that were buried under the landslide, which was 4 m deep, it said.

Three of the eight people were in critical critical condition, according to Suharyanto, National Disaster Management Agency chief. They were rushed to a hospital in Pontianak city on Borneo Island, about 300 km from Genting, but one person died in the sea on the way.

The search and rescue operation has been hampered by heavy rains around the disaster site. Weather has forced the search effort to be stopped several times, while downed communications lines and electricity are also hindering the operation, said Suharyanto, who, like many Indonesians, uses a single name.

Suharyanto said we are doing our best to find the missing victims, and that sniffer dogs are also being mobilized in the search.

On Wednesday, two helicopters and several vessels carrying rescuers, medical teams and relief supplies, including tents, blankets and food, arrived on the island from Jakarta and nearby islands.

The landlide displaced 1,300 people who were taken into four temporary shelters after the landslide, Suharyanto said. The death toll could still rise, according to authorities.

In recent days, seasonal rains and high tides have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains close to rivers.

In November 2022 a landslide triggered by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake killed at least 335 people in West Java's Cianjur city, about a third of whom were children.