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Fatal Indonesia landslide follows heavy rainfall

A landslide in Indonesia has left at least 32 people dead and dozens missing, according to recent reports.

The incident on Saturday on the Indonesian island of Java followed heavy rain in the region.

The seasonal downpour and difficult ground conditions have hampered access to the site at Banjarnegara in central Java.

Dave Petley, pro-vice chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of East Anglia, has analysed images of the event and suggested the landslide is significant for two key reasons.

“First, the slide appears to have been a very mobile earthflow – in fact, there appears to be two lobes with an untouched area between,” explained Petley.

“Second, the landslide appears to be surprisingly deep-seated in the source area judging by the size of the lateral scarp on the left side of the lower part of the source area. It seems that this deep-seated nature created a very large mobile mass that overran the village.”

Petley added that the landslide appeared to have occurred in deeply weathered residual soil, with no evidence of bedrock, or a bedrock-regolith contact. He suggested a static liquefaction type process may have caused the exceptional mobility of the landslide.

Alternatively, an undrained loading process generated by an initial failure near the crown of the landslide may have caused the rapid mobility.

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