01/03/2006, 00.00
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Floods and landslides kill 57 in Java

by Benteng Reges
More than 3,000 people are evacuated; many are now homeless. Torrential rains cause flooding and landslides.

Java (AsiaNews) – Violent floods hit eastern Java yesterday killing 57 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000. But there is no official death tally yet since many residents are still listed as missing.

Heavy rains hit four municipalities in the Jember district, especially Panti and Rambipunji. Local rivers overflowed their banks and flooded thousands of homes leaving thousands homeless. Some 1,900 are seeking temporary shelter in government buildings and mosques.

According to Hartomo, a Jember district official, the rains have also set off landslides that destroyed more homes.

Vital bridge links have been damaged or washed away. In one case, the 300 residents of the village of Kemiri have been cut off.

Temporary bamboo bridges set up by soldiers and policemen enabled many locals to flee. They could not get out sooner because "the landslides and flooding came suddenly, around midnight," said Kemiri village Chief Sudik. Survivors who made it out said they were without food for two days.

Because of the rain Jember's main roads which lead to the south of the island were covered in 20 centimetres (8 in.) of mud.

The Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, has set up emergency shelters and first aid centres for the wounded.

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