Rescuers used heavy digging equipment on Wednesday to move tons of dislodged clay strewn with splintered remnants of upended houses after a mudslide on Indonesia’s main island of Java buried dozens, leaving at least 46 dead or missing, officials said.
Officials had earlier said 72 had probably died but later revised the figure down. At least 17 bodies have been pulled from the rubble, but many more are believed trapped.
“It seems there is no possibility of anyone among those 46 surviving,” said National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono. The true toll could be higher.
Days of heavy rain prompted the landslide yesterday at a mountainous tea plantation near the village of Tenjoljaya in Ciwidey district of West Java province.
Some village houses and plantation buildings survived unscathed above where terraced rows of tea plants cleaved off the hillside and slid to a plain below.
Scores of houses as well as the plantation office and warehouse were rolled and crushed as they slid down the hillside with a swath of top soil and mud hundreds of yards (meters) wide.
Around 600 terrified survivors fled their hillside homes for tents on safer ground, fearing more of the mountainside would collapse under the continuing soaking rain, Kardono said.