Indonesia: 14 dead and others missing after landslides hit Sulawesi island

Torrential rains have triggered landslides on an Indonesian island killing at least 14 people and leaving three others missing.

Sulawesi was hit with heavy rainfall on Saturday night specifically affecting two villages in the Tana Toraja district in the island's southern peninsula.

Mud fell from surrounding hills and destroyed four homes, in one of which a family gathering was being held, local police said.

A search and rescue operation for missing residents is under way as soldiers, police and volunteers joined forces to scour the villages of Makale and South Makale in a remote, hilly area.

Rescuers have so far recovered at least 14 bodies from both villages and were still searching for three more, including a three-year-old girl, said National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

Sifting through the rubble, rescuers managed to save two injured people, including an eight-year-old girl, and rushed them to a nearby hospital.

However, emergency response efforts have been hindered due to downed communication lines, bad weather, unstable soil and damaged roads in the affected areas, the agency said.

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Located in the centre of Sulawesi island, the mountainous region of Tana Toraja is a popular tourist destination and features attractions like the tau-tau - wooden effigies buried in its caves.

Floods and landslides killed at least 26 people on Indonesia's Sumatra island last month, with torrential rains
destroying hundreds of homes, and displacing thousands.

Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or in fertile flood plains.