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Landslide in Indonesia kills at least 38
Updated: 2004-04-25 17:09

Rescue teams Sunday searched for bodies buried under a landslide that enveloped a passenger bus on Indonesia's Sumatra island, killing at least 38 people and leaving five others feared dead, police said.

Search efforts were hampered because the landslide had pushed the bus to the edge of a steep ravine, making digging at the site hazardous, said police Lt. Col. Muhammad Zaini.

Heavy rain sent tons of mud, rocks and uprooted trees crashing onto the bus late Friday on a hilly and windy road close to the West Sumatran town of Padang, 940 kilometers (585 miles) northwest of Jakarta.

Police using a backhoe and scores of villages equipped with spades have so far found 38 bodies, said Zaini. At least five other passengers are buried under the debris, and are almost certainly dead, he said.

Landslides are frequent during Indonesia's annual rainy season, which normally lasts from October to May.

Environmentalists have blamed many of the disasters on deforestation, either by villagers looking for firewood or for industrial or agricultural reasons.

It was unclear whether logging _ which leaves hillsides unable to absorb rain and prone to erosion _ played a role in Friday's disaster.

Last month, a landslide in South Sulawesi killed 30 people, and 200 people died in November when a flash flood hit the Bukit Lawang resort in North Sumatra.

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