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Indonesia Landslide Kills 62

August 1, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ A landslide buried part of a village on a remote Indonesian island amid heavy rains, killing at least 62 people and leaving hundreds missing, government officials said Wednesday.

Rescue workers were on their way to Sambulu village, where the landslide struck Tuesday, destroying at least 103 houses, said Abdurrahman Nasution, a local government official.

Villagers were searching through the rubble for survivors and reported that 62 people were killed and several hundred residents were still unaccounted for, Nasution said. He added that authorities could not confirm the death toll yet.

Officials said Sambulu was also hit with flooding and that parts were still underwater Wednesday. ``We will send aid soon,″ Nasution said.

It was not clear what triggered the landslide, but three earthquakes _ measuring between 5.3 and 5.4 magnitude _ were recorded with their epicenters about 420 miles from Nias in the Indian Ocean, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

The village is located on Nias island, about 60 miles off the northwest coast of Sumatra island and about 780 miles northwest of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta.

Although Indonesia is in the middle of its annual dry season, there has been an unseasonal amount of rainfall in parts of the country.

Flooding and landslides kill hundreds of people in Indonesia every year. Officials and environmentalists say deforestation by loggers and villagers needing firewood contribute to the disasters.

Hundreds of foreign tourists _ mostly surfers _ visit Nias every year attracted by the islands large waves. The island has little infrastructure and many villages are inaccessible by road.

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