Indonesia landslide kills three, more missing

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Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season

Two children are among three people confirmed killed by a landslide at a Chinese-backed power plant on Indonesia's Sumatra island, authorities said Friday, with fears that the toll would rise.

Heavy rains pounded the area in North Sumatra on Thursday evening, triggering the deadly torrent.

"This morning we found three dead victims -- one adult and two children," said Toto Mulyono, head of the search-and-rescue agency in provincial capital Medan city.

"We're still searching for nine more missing."

Among them are three staff working at the Batang Toru hydropower facility, including one Chinese national, feared buried beneath a mountain of mud and debris.

The employees were checking on the area over concerns that heavy rains could trigger landslides when disaster struck, according to Firman Taufick, spokesman for plant operator PT North Sumatera Hydro Energy.

Another Chinese employee narrowly escaped as he fled the scene, Taufick added.

"We're working with a rescue team from the military and police are combing the area now," he said.

Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season.

This month, more than 200 people were killed in a cluster of far-eastern islands and neighbouring East Timor when Tropical Cyclone Seroja turned small communities into wastelands of mud and uprooted trees.

Seroja, one of the most destructive storms to hit the region in years, forced thousands to flee to shelters.

Indonesia's disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians -- nearly half of the country's population -- live in areas at risk of landslides.

The disasters are often caused by deforestation and poor mitigation planning, according to environmentalists.

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