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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 17:13 GMT
Indonesia landslides bury dozens
Heavy rains regularly cause landslides and flash floods

At least 80 people have been killed or are reported missing after floods triggered landslides in the central Java region of Indonesia.

Local officials say they fear the death toll could rise. Thousands have been forced to seek shelter after their homes were buried or washed away.

Landslides and floods are regular in Indonesia and many blame deforestation.

The latest flood came on the third anniversary of the tsunami that left 220,000 Indonesians dead or missing.

Celebration dinner

Floods rose up across Java island on Wednesday following seasonal rains and high tides.

Television pictures showed people wading through chest-high water, clutching their belongings above their heads.

Landslides struck several areas, including the Tawangmangu area of Central Java, in Karanganyar district, and further south in Wonogiri.


The worst incident was reportedly in Karanganyar, where people were at a dinner celebrating the clean-up of a mud-covered home.

Rescue chief Eko Prayitno told Associated Press news agency: "They were having dinner together when they were hit by another landslide. At least 61 people were buried."

Rescuers have been struggling to reach many of the affected areas as roads have been cut off.

A provincial official said the landslides were the worst to hit the region in quarter of a century.

"The landslides took us by surprise. This is the first time in the last 25 years anything of this scale occurred here in Central Java," the official, Julianto, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"It is difficult for any help to reach the area, so the local teams are left on their own," he said.

Heru, head of the local disaster coordination agency, told Reuters deforestation was probably not to blame in this incident.

"The forest in the area is thick," he said.

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