Sun, Jan 08, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Landslide toll revised down to 180

AP , CIJERUK, INDONESIA

Indonesian rescuers on Friday carry the body of a victim of a landslide in Cijeruk village, which was destroyed when tonnes of mud loosened by monsoon rains buried the village in Central Java.

PHOTO: AP

Rescue workers carried on the grim task of searching for bodies yesterday after pounding rains sent landslides crashing into several Indonesian villages, while the number of people listed as dead or missing fell to about 180.

Authorities revised the figure after dozens of survivors were found to be staying with family or friends.

Bulldozers and excavators shoved aside mountains of mud and shattered wooden houses in the village of Cijeruk in central Java and several hamlets in Jember, hundreds of kilometers to the east.

Hundreds of soldiers, police and volunteers also sifted through the mud and rocks, some using their bare hands or hoes.

The number of bodies recovered at both disaster sites climbed to 160 yesterday, with at least 23 people missing and feared dead, said Bagio, a local government official, who goes by one name.

Earlier authorities said the toll could be as high as 240.

Sangidah, a 40-year-old widow, was still waiting for news about her 18-year-old son Agus Setiawan, who has been missing since dawn on Wednesday when tons of mud, rocks and logs crashed down a hill flanking the farming community of Cijeruk.

"I have not been able to sleep for three nights. I cannot eat since the fate of my son is still not clear," said Sangidah, who goes by only one name.

She said she was just finishing early morning Islamic prayers when the landslide struck.

"I ran out of the mosque as I heard the thundering sound, yelling Allah Akbar," Sangidah said.

"I was so scared as I saw the land and mud chasing me, trapping many people just a few meters behind me. I kept running," she said.

So far, 108 bodies have been pulled from the mud in Jember, government official Purwanto said.

In Cijeruk, 52 bodies have been recovered and 23 other people were feared dead, said Feriyanto, an official at the local Crisis Center. Both only use one name.

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