Hope Fades for Missing Indonesian Landslide Victims

Indonesian rescue workers are warning that it is unlikely to find any more survivors of Wednesday's landslide in Central Java province.
( [email protected] ) Jan 07, 2006 06:09 PM EST

Indonesian rescue workers are warning that it is unlikely to find any more survivors of Wednesday’s landslide in Central Java province.

Out of some 200 people reported missing in the village of Sijeruk, 51 bodies have been found so far by rescuers after the third day of searching through heaps of mud.

"Chances of finding anyone alive are slim," Umar Yulianto, a local government official involved with the rescue effort, told Agence France Presse by telephone.

Yulianto said that villagers had been alerted about the impending disaster but had not taken the warnings seriously.

"They heard the signs and the village chief had warned them but they believed that they were safe," he said.

According to another officer, rescuers will stop searching for victims on Saturday, AFP reported.

The landslide in Sijeruk is the second disaster in Indonesia this week, the first occurring in East Java province on Monday.

Both were caused by days of heavy rains, and, according to activists, deforestation.

Christian relief workers are already on the scene handing out food, needed items, or performing assessment of the disaster. World Vision Indonesia began distributing 200 family kits containing dishes, utensils, soaps, toothpastes, and blankets among other items to the survivors in the East Java landslide.

Church World Service Indonesia staff members are currently conducting rapid needs assessments in the Java area and will distribute items such as CWS blankets, CWS "Gift of the Heart" Health Kits, emergency food and water aid after the assessments are completed.

"Gift of the Heart" Health Kits are prepared by volunteers and are small assistance packages that contain a hand towel, washcloth, comb, nail clipper, bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and BandAids.

In addition, CWS Emergency Response is sending a $5,000 rapid response grant to Church World Service Indonesia.