Fifteen bodies have been found and 60 people were today missing after monsoon rains sparked the 1,000-foot deep mudslide. Shocked villagers watched in silence as bodies were dug out of the clay that squashed homes, offices and a processing plant at a tea plantation south of West Java’s capital, Jakarta.
Survivors said the earth crashed down with the sound of an explosion. Villagers used their bare hands and farm tools to scrape through mud and rocks in a desperate search for more survivors. Meanwhile blocked roads and the rugged terrain, hampered official rescue efforts. Today about 1,000 rescuers including police and soldiers were searching for victims buried on the once-picturesque plantation near Ciwidey village, about 22 miles south west of Bandung city. "We've found 15 bodies so far and estimate that there are up to 70 people still missing," Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said. But West Java police spokesman, Dade Ahmad added: "The landslide is very deep. At this point, the chance of pulling out victims alive is slim." "We’ve got sniffer dogs working on it, but it's difficult to get heavy machinery into the site. The soil from the landslide is very thick and sticky. We've pulled out bodies using our bare hands," Mr Ahmad said.
Villagers said the mud appeared to have flowed down from a nearby hill in a massive "S" shape after heavy rains overnight. Tea plantation worker Rosmana, 35, said the earth crashed down with what sounded like an explosion. "It happened suddenly. I saw soil mixed with water coming down very fast towards my village. I panicked and worried about my two sons," she told The Telegraph newspaper. "I rushed to my house and found that my four aunties and a little nephew were buried,” she said. “My oldest son managed to survive because he ran with other residents to higher ground. My youngest was safe at school."
It is believed the landslide might have occurred after soil on the steep slopes were destabilized by last year's earthquake in West Java, which killed 45. "The chances of survival are zero, because this landslide is entirely mud. There will be no chance of air pockets," the Indonesian Red Cross disaster management chief told CNN news.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children