Up to 78 feared dead in Indonesian landslides

Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused widespread flooding across Indonesia.

landslide victim 298 (photo credit: )
landslide victim 298
(photo credit: )
Days of torrential rain triggered landslides that killed up to 78 people in western Indonesia on Wednesday - many of them as they took part in a late-night dinner celebrating the cleanup of a mud-covered home, a rescue official said. Hundreds of soldiers, police and volunteers were trying to get heavy-lifting equipment to affected villages on the main island of Java, said search and rescue chief Eko Prayitno, but blocked roads were hampering their efforts. In the most deadly incident, a landslide tumbled onto villagers who had just finished clearing mud from an inundated home in Karanganyar district and were celebrating. "They were having dinner together when they were hit by another landslide," Prayitno said. "At least 61 people were buried." In nearby Wonogiri district, 17 people were feared dead when landslides hit their homes following 12 hours of nonstop rain. The landslides occurred on the third anniversary of the Asian tsunami, which killed 230,000 people in a dozen nations. Two-thirds of those deaths occurred on neighboring Sumatra island, more than 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) away. A tsunami warning drill on Java was unaffected by Wednesday's disasters. Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused widespread flooding across Indonesia - the world's fourth most-populous nation - where millions of people live in mountainous regions and near fertile flood plains close to rivers. Floods were reported in numerous locations elsewhere on Java, as well as on Sumatra and Sulawesi islands. Thousands of homes were affected, witnesses and media reports said.