- Reports indicate that among the dead were some of the search and rescue members who include an Indonesian army captain and the head of a local disaster relief agency.
- The first landslide occurred as a result of unstable soil condition in the area that was made worse by the heavy rains.
- President Joko Widodo had warned that the country would experience more flooding and landslides that it usually occurs due to a periodic weather pattern
At least twelve people have been killed, eighteen injured, and dozens others reported missing following landslides in Sumedang regency, West Java in Indonesia. The country’s most populous island, Java, is home to more than 140 million people. The landslides occurred as a result of heavy rains that have been pounding the country.
It is alleged that the landslides made access to some areas impossible because they cut off a bridge and a number of roads in the region.
According to an official from the National Agency for Disaster Management, Raditya Jati, the first landslide occurred as a result of unstable soil condition in the area that was made worse by the heavy rains. He revealed that the search and rescue teams were evacuating the affected people.
Reports indicate that among the dead were some of the search and rescue members who include an Indonesian army captain and the head of a local disaster relief agency. The operation was carried out by a joint team of military, police and local disaster agency workers.
However, it was noted that the operation was made difficult due to lack of heavy machinery to help remove the soil, so as to get to the victims. Bad weather also led to the suspension of the search and rescue operation, according to officials.
A woman who was greatly affected by the tragedy said that her father, mother, nephew and niece were at home at the time of the accident, and were all missing. She said that the first landslide buried their home while the second one, which was larger, buried it even deeper, taking it with bystanders. “Many people came to see the rescue team and suddenly the second landslide hit,” she said.
The country’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency had warned that the heavy rains, lightning, and strong winds will continue to be experienced until Monday. Indonesia is a country that is plagued by heavy rains, especially at the beginning of the year, with the peak months being January and February.
Last year, in October, President Joko Widodo had warned that the country would experience more flooding and landslides that it usually occurs due to a periodic weather pattern. The President had urged the people to prepare for the disasters that would come with the heavy rains. According to the meteorological department, the rain is expected to continue until March.
Landslides are a common occurrence in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, which has a population of 270 million people. It is an archipelago of 17,500 islands that straddles the Equator that was once covered by vast rain forests.
However, over the last half-century, most of the forests have been burned and logged, so as to pave way for palm plantations and other farming activities.
The tragedy comes days after the remains of a plane were found in the sea. The Swirijaya plane, which had 62 passengers, went missing four minutes after it took off from Jakarta airport.