Death toll from Natuna landslide rises to 46

The landslide on Serasan Island, 80 kmoff the coast of Kalimantan and part of the Natuna Islands chain, occurred on March 6 following six days of heavy rain.


Mud from a recent landslide covers buildings in Sarasan, Natuna, Riau Islands, on March 7. Fifteen people have died, 42 are missing and more than 1,200 have been relocated to temporary shelters in the wake of the disaster.(Antara/Kiky Firdaus)

March 14, 2023

JAKARTA – The death toll from a landslide on a remote island of Serasan in Natuna, Riau Islands, had risen to 46 after rescuers had found more bodies on Sunday, authorities said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said 10 more bodies had been found buried under the rubble and landslide debris in Genting hamlet, Pangkalan village, on Sunday, the fifth day of the rescue operation, while 9 people remain missing. Of the total 46 fatalities, 24 of them were male and 22 others were women.

Additional heavy equipment sent by the Public Works and Housing Ministry and additional personnel deployed by the military and the police had aided the search and rescue operation, according to BNPB spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

“Not to mention the weather that has gradually improved has helped the search and evacuation process,” Abdul said in a press release on Monday.

The landslide on Serasan Island, 80 kilometers off the coast of Kalimantan and part of the Natuna Islands chain, occurred on March 6 following six days of heavy rain. The landslide also damaged communication infrastructure, hindering the already complicated evacuation efforts in the remote region. But the communication lines have started to recover on the third day of the mitigation response.

As of Monday, some 2,240 people, either those whose houses were affected by the landslide or those who fled their homes over safety precautions, were still taking refuge in six emergency shelters across the island, many of whom were in the Serasan border post (PLBN).

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said there was still land that could potentially be dislodged should there be heavy rain in the area. The disaster agency previously said the landslide had been estimated to have been 100-200 meters long.

Following the landslide, the Natuna regency administration said it would relocate as many as 100 families from their old houses to new locations, with the Public Works and Housing Ministry building the new houses for the relocated families, and which the BNPB would fully fund.

From Jakarta, the BNPB also sent a logistic aid package for the landslide victims while dozens of search and rescue personnel from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police have also been dispatched to Serasan island to aid evacuation efforts.

The BNPB has provided an emergency fund (DSP) of Rp 1 billion (US$64,773) to the Natuna regency administration for landslide disaster mitigation efforts. (ipa)

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