Dozens of volunteers, including villagers, soldiers, and police dug with their bare hands in an attempt to rescue scores of victims claimed by Indonesian mudslides until darkness. Torrential rains ravaged central Indonesia killing a reported 18 people and injuring nearly 100 more.
Rescuers used their bare hands, hoes, and shovels to dig through the mud to get to any survivors. The mudslide occurred yesterday in the Banjarnegara district, a Central Java province. More than 100 homes were washed away in Jemblung village and 18 people were confirmed dead. Ninety people were reportedly still unaccounted for and 11 more people were taken to area hospitals after the avalanche of red clay and rock had tumbled down the hillside on small communities.
Wahono, a survivor of the mudslide, said that there was a loud roar and immediately everyone was escaping the mudslide. He and his four family members survived the Indonesian mudslide but scores of other victims were claimed by the raining mud and were buried alive. Another resident reported that no warning was given of the possibility of the mudslide.
Volunteers recovered eight bodies in the carnage, including an 8-year-old boy. Five of the dead were located in one car. Tractors and bulldozers were brought in to the district to help in the rescue and recovery effort. Some 423 residents were evacuated to temporary housing. Huge tracts of forest land, houses, and power lines were demolished in the Indonesian mudslide that claimed scores of victims.
Weeping family members alleged that they could hear family members and friends crying for help throughout the night. Rescue efforts were limited due to a lack of tools and assistance, hindering the process. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, stated that the inclement weather, rugged terrain, and mud all played a factor in hampering the rescue efforts.
Yesterday’s mudslide was the second to hit the Java Island in almost just as many days. One villager died Thursday after a mudslide hit the Wonosobo district, another Central Java province.
Indonesia, population in the millions spanning 17,000 islands, experiences frequent landslides during monsoon season. The season runs from October to April making mudslides a common occurrence. High tides and seasonal torrential rains combine to form a deadly place to live this time of year. Widespread flooding has also been reported near rivers and fertile flood plains.
Central Java governor, Ganjar Pranowo, declared a disaster emergency for the next three months. He required that local administration, in conjunction with police, the military, and rescue workers from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, handle the devastation for the next three months. A rapid reaction team was initiated to accompany local officials in handling the emergency. The governor pleaded for locals to cooperate and assist in evacuations of victims and help rebuild a road leading to the location that was blocked.
There were various numbers being reported as to the actual death toll. Several villages were hit with mudslides over the past several days and scores of villagers are still missing. A BNPB representative previously mentioned before the search was abandoned until the following morning that 17 bodies had been recovered with 90 people still missing.
Lt. Col. Edi Rohmatulloh, the Banjarnegara military district’s Chief, feared that upwards of 100 people were still missing in the village of Gerumbul Jemblung because according local records, the population was 300. Only 200 people were accounted for among the living. Rescue efforts were suspended until Sunday morning as rescuers dug through the remains of the mudslide claiming scores of Indonesian victims.
By Stevenson Benoit
Photo by DVIDSHUB – Flickr License