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Landslides leave 16 dead, 9 missing in Indonesia

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 27, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

— Rescuers found four more bodies Sunday, bringing the death toll to 16 in two separate landslides triggered by torrential rain in western Indonesia, including five geothermal workers, officials said.

The worst landslides happened in Tanjung Sani of Agam district in West Sumatra province, where 20 houses were buried when mud and rocks fell from surrounding hills at dawn on Sunday, killing 11 villagers, said disaster official Ade Edward.

He said six injured villagers were being treated at a hospital, including one in critical condition. The bodies of the dead, including three children aged 8 and 9, have been evacuated and rescuers using heavy digging equipment are searching for nine people who reportedly were buried under the mud and feared dead.

Hundreds of terrified survivors fled their hillside homes for tents on safer ground, fearing more of the mountainside would collapse under continuing rain, Edward said.

In the neighboring province of Jambi, days of heavy rains triggered a landslide in a drilling field owned by PT. Pertamina Geothermal Energy, a state-run company, late Saturday. The death toll there rose to five after searchers pulled out the body of another worker from the mud on Sunday, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Company official Adiatma Sardjito said 60 workers survived Saturday’s landslide.

“The workers were having dinner when the landslide suddenly occurred,” Sardjito said, adding the disaster left five others hurt.

He said the landslide did not impact their production.

Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and flashfloods each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

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