Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Toll to rise in deadly Indonesia landslide

Rescuers seach for victims in the Bandung area, Indonesia. Photo: 23 February 2010
The landslide buried the village after days of heavy rain

Up to 70 people are feared dead after being trapped under piles of mud when a landslide hit a village near the Indonesian city of Bandung.

Heavy rain forced rescue efforts to stop for the night but they resumed after lifting equipment arrived.

Before that, villagers tried to dig victims out with their bare hands.

At least 16 people are known to be dead in Tuesday's landslide, which buried the village in the Ciwidey district on the Java island after days of rain.

Tree plantation

About 600 villagers have been moved to makeshift tents amid fears of further landslides because of the bad weather.

Indonesia map

Rescuers - helped by police and soldiers - have dug out 16 bodies on Wednesday.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said another 15 people had been injured, two of whom had been admitted to hospital.

"The landslide is very deep. At this point, the chance of pulling out victims alive is slim," said West Java police spokesman Dade Ahmad.

About 500 rescuers, including officers from the Brimob special police force, are searching for victims buried on the tea plantation near Ciwidey village, about 35km (22 miles) southwest of Bandung city.

"We have six sniffer dogs on site and rescuers are digging manually using hoes and light cutting equipment to reach victims," Mr Ahmad added.

Indonesian Vice-President Boediono and several ministers are expected to visit the disaster area.

This region has been seeing particularly heavy rains for the time of year, with scores of people escaping from their homes to safety.

Landslides are common in Indonesia, where years of deforestation can often leave hillsides vulnerable to collapse.

According to environmentalists, tropical downpours can quickly soak hills stripped of vegetation which had held the soil in place.

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