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Jakarta Post

Hundreds buried alive under Banjarnegara landslides

  • Agus Maryono

    The Jakarta Post

Banjarnegara   /   Tue, December 16, 2014   /  04:54 pm

At least 400 persons were killed after being buried alive by landslides in Banjarnegara regency, Central Java, during the last 10 years.

Hundreds of residents who fell victim to the natural disasters were mostly from Banjarmangu and Karangkobar, two neighboring Banjanegara districts that are both located in extremely steep mountainous areas.

According to official data, Banjarnegara is inhabited by 1.2 million people and has 266 villages in 20 districts. Nearly all of the districts in Banjarnegara have steep mountainous areas prone to landslides. Only few areas are slightly sloped. They include areas near Banjarnegara, the regency'€™s capital, and those that are located along the main Banjarnegara-Banyumas highways, such as the Purwanegara and Kota districts, as well as Purworejo Klampok. However, these districts are not 100 percent safe from landslide threats because parts of these areas are also steeply mountainous.

'€œSo, it can be said that 70 percent of the areas in Banjarnegara are prone to landslides. Geographically, it is a landslide-prone area,'€ Banjarnegara deputy regent Hadi Supeno told The Jakarta Post.

The worst landslide disaster occurred in Grumbul Gunung Raja, Sijeruk village, Banjarmangu district, in January 2006, in which around 240 people were killed after being buried alive and only 97 of the bodies could be recovered.

The landslide that occurred in Grumbul Jemblung, Sampang village, Karangkobar district, last Friday, was the second-worst disaster on record, as around 108 people were buried alive. As of Tuesday afternoon, the search and rescue teams had managed to recover at least 61 victims.

'€œThe remainder are still missing. With more than 2,000 people involved in the joint search and rescue mission, we hope that we can recover all of the victims,'€ said Hadi.

Banjarnegara Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Catur Subandrio said since the Sijeruk incident in 2006, landslides had frequently occurred during the rainy season every year and taken lives.

Around 200 landslide disasters occurred in 2010, up from 126 in 2009, 76 in 2008 and 57 in 2007, he added.

'€œAs many as 26 landslide points, including the one in Jemblung village, have been recorded throughout 2014,'€ said Catur. (ebf)(++++)