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At least 14 dead and 3 missing as landslides hit Indonesia's Sulawesi island

TANA TORAJA, Indonesia — Torrential rains triggered landslides on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, killing at least 14 people and leaving three others missing, officials said Sunday.

Mud fell from surrounding hills onto four houses just before midnight Saturday in the Tana Toraja district of South Sulawesi province, said local police chief Gunardi Mundu. He said a family gathering was being held in one of the affected houses.

Dozens of soldiers, police and volunteers joined the search in the villages of Makale and South Makale, in a remote, hilly area, Mundu said. Rescuers early Sunday managed to pull out two injured people, including an 8-year-old girl, and rushed them to a nearby hospital.

Rescuers by Sunday afternoon had recovered at least 11 bodies in Makale village and three bodies in South Makale, and were still searching for three others, including a 3-year-old girl, said National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

Downed communications lines, bad weather and unstable soil were hampering the rescue efforts, Muhari said.

Tana Toraja has many popular tourist attractions, including a site with traditional houses and wooden statues of bodies buried in the caves, known as tau-tau.

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.

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