Landslides kill 10 on Indonesia's Sulawesi island, 40 missing

JAKARTA (Reuters) - At least 10 people have died and 40 are missing after torrential rain caused a landslide in a gold mine in Indonesia's Sulawesi island at the weekend, officials said on Monday, with bad weather hampering the rescue effort.

The landslide on Sunday morning in Suwawa district, Gorontalo province, killed miners and residents living nearby, said Heriyanto, head of the Basarnas rescue agency.

Small-scale and illegal mining is a flash point for conflicts and accidents in Indonesia, where mineral resources are often situated in remote and protected forest areas that are difficult for the government to regulate.

"We have deployed 164 personnel, consisting of the national rescue team, police and military personnel, to search for the missing people," Heriyanto said.

Earlier on Monday, the agency said at least 12 people had died and 18 were missing, a toll which was updated later in the day to 10 deaths and 40 missing.

By Monday evening, rescuers had halted their search due to heavy rain, said Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency.

Rescuers had to walk about 20 kms (12.43 miles) to reach the landslide site and were being hampered by thick mud over the road and continuing rain in the area, Heriyanto said.

"We will try to use an excavator once it's possible," he said.

Photos of the affected village shared by the agency showed some houses were flattened by the landslide.

Indonesia's disaster agency said the landslide has damaged several houses and one bridge. It warned residents that further rain was expected in some areas in Gorontalo province on Monday and Tuesday and urged people to be alert.

In May, flash floods and mud slides caused by torrential rain killed more than 50 people in Indonesia's West Sumatra province.

In April, a landslide caused by high-intensity rains in South Sulawesi killed at least 18 people.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Editing by Michael Perry and Christina Fincher)