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April 19, 2014

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Indonesia landslides kill 19 villagers; 10 missing

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 | 5:16 a.m.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Two landslides triggered by torrential rain killed at least 19 people and left 10 others missing on Indonesia's main island of Java, a government official said Tuesday.

Five houses were buried when mud rolled down from surrounding hills just after midnight in Mekarsari village of East Java's Jombang district, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

He said rescuers pulled seven bodies from mounds of mud and were still searching for 10 others reportedly missing under tons of debris.

"Lack of equipment hampered our rescue efforts for those who are still missing and feared dead," said Nugroho.

Authorities struggled to get tractors and bulldozers over washed-out roads. Television footage showed hundreds of police, soldiers and residents digging through debris with their hands, shovels and hoes.

Tuesday's fatal landslides were the second in several days on densely populated Java island.

Mud and rocks cascaded down hills in Central Java's Kudos district late Friday, leaving at least 12 villagers dead.

Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains near rivers.