Rescuers were searching for 42 people still missing Tuesday after two landslides triggered by torrential rains hit villages on an island in Indonesia’s remote Natuna regency, disaster officials said.
Dozens of soldiers, police and volunteers joined the search in the Genting and Pangkalan villages on a remote island surrounded by choppy waters and high waves in the Natuna group at the edge of the South China Sea. There were reports of 42 people trapped in 27 houses that were buried under tons of mud from surrounding hills.
Natuna’s disaster agency lowered the death toll Tuesday morning to 10 from 11 despite fears it could rise. It said on its website that rescuers pulled 8 injured people from the landslides, 4 of whom were in critical condition and have been rushed to a hospital in Pontianak city on Borneo island, about 285 kilometres (180 miles) away.
The landslides displaced more than 1,200 people who were taken to evacuation centres and other shelters.
National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas. He said two helicopters and several vessels carrying rescuers and relief supplies, including tents, blankets, food and medical teams, have departed from Jakarta and nearby islands.
“Distribution of relief supplies has been difficult because the injured and displaced are spread out and hard to reach,” Muhari said, and the search and rescue operation has been hampered by rainy weather around the disaster site, downed communications lines and lack of heavy equipment.
Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains close to rivers.
In November 2022, a landslide triggered by 5.6 magnitude earthquake killed at least 335 people in West Java’s Cianjur city, about a third of them children.