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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 14:12 GMT
Indonesian landslide toll mounts
Rescuers find a body in the mud
Most of those killed have been buried deep beneath the mud
Rescuers in Indonesia are struggling to reach survivors and victims of the landslides and floods which hit the central island of Java on 26 December.

At least 120 people are reported dead or missing, with tens of thousands forced to flee their houses.

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

The latest flood, said to be the worst in a generation, came on the third anniversary of the tsunami that left 220,000 Indonesians dead or missing.

Rescuers are trying to get mechanical diggers and lifting equipment to two remote districts that were hit by landslides.


People in the worst-hit Karanganyar area are continuing to use shovels and their bare hands to search for the bodies of dozens of people buried under several metres of mud.


"We are only left with basic tools, such as spades and ploughs, yet we face a seven to nine metres (23 - 30ft) blanket of mud," local police chief Rikwanto told Reuters by telephone.

A health ministry official told AFP at least 28,000 had been displaced in Central Java, while the Red Cross said 45,000 took refuge in East Java.

Local officials said the landslides and floods were the worst in a quarter of a century and environmentalists blamed the disaster on intensive deforestation.

"For five consecutive years landslides and floods have occurred in Java, claiming many lives," Chalid Muhammad, director of Indonesia's leading environmental group Walhi told Reuters.

"The main trigger is ecological destruction caused by deforestation, forest conversions and chaotic spatial planning."

He said deforestation on Java island had reached a critical stage, although officials pointed out the landslides happened in areas covered with dense forests.

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