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Rescue Efforts Hampered After Deadly Indonesia Landslides

As deadly landslides struck the Natuna islands in Indonesia on Wednesday, the search for numerous missing individuals went on.

The search for dozens of missing people continued Wednesday after deadly landslides hit the Natuna islands in Indonesia. The landslides have killed at least 15 people, Reuters reported, with at least 42 still trapped in houses.

On Monday, torrential downpours around the Serasan village in Natuna caused mud from the surrounding hills to fall onto houses. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said that rescuers recovered dead bodies after the landslide, which was estimated to have been about 100-200 meters (656.16 feets) (328-656 feet ) long. Muhari cautioned that the death toll may continue to rise.

Indonesia National Disaster Management Agency chief Suharyanto said that eight people were pulled out from the landslide alive, yet injured, and were rushed to nearby hospitals, the Associated Press reported. Three were in critical condition, with no update on their condition as of Wednesday morning, local time.

This aerial picture taken on March. 8, 2023, shows a rescue team using a backhoe to search for victims among houses that were destroyed after being hit by landslides at Pelimpak village in Natuna Islands. KIKI FIRDAUS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Rescue efforts, Muhari added, have been stunted due to “difficulty accessing the affected areas,” which includes downed communications lines and poor weather. The remote island village is located at the edge of the South China Sea and is susceptible to rough waters.

On Wednesday, soldiers were joined by police and volunteers on the search for the missing, and Muhari stated that two helicopters and several vessels were en route from Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, and other islands, bringing along more responders along with relief supplies such as blankets and food. Excavators and other heavy equipment have yet to arrive to the landslide site, forcing responders to travel by boat, vehicle and on foot.

In addition to the missing, the landslides displaced more than 1,200 people, who are currently staying in shelters and evacuation centers.

Dozens of landslides and reports of flooding throughout Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands in Southeast Asia, have been a result of seasonal rains and high tides. AccuWeather Meteorologist Isaac Longley stated that approximately about 4-06 inches (100-150 mm) of rain fell across the Serasan region between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, local time. NOAA satellite-estimated precipitation images showed well over 2 feet (700 mm (2.30 feets)) of rain in the last week.

The foundation of the building on the edge of the ravine is seen following a landslide caused by heavy rains in the Caringin area, in Bogor on March. 2, 2023. ADITYA AJI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“That’s certainly enough to cause flooding and landslide issues, especially with the rain falling in a short period of time and over areas with steep terrain,” Longley said.

Serasan Island in Indonesia was hit with heavy rainfall to begin March, resulting in a deadly landslide that left at least 15 dead and dozens more missing.

Longley added that “it appears the worst might be over for (the Serasan) region” in terms of rainfall, but extra rain may persist throughout the week.

“There will still be daily chances for showers and thunderstorms going forward, especially later in the week and during the weekend, when there can be another 1-2 inches of rain or so,” he said.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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