Hillside crashes onto Indonesian farmers; 5 dead, 18 missing

People take photos of a landslide in Brebes, Indonesia February 22, 2018, in this image obtained from social media. (Aji Santoso/via REUTERS)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Hillside crashes onto Indonesian farmers; 5 dead, 18 missing

BREBES, Indonesia: Farmers were working in their rice paddies on the Indonesian island of Java, when the soggy hillside above them collapsed under the weight of torrential rains, killing five people and leaving rescuers digging for 18 missing.
Survivors described a sudden roar as Thursday’s landslide was unleashed, sweeping trees and everything else in its path toward the terraced rice fields below.
“The hill above us looked like it was spinning down,” said Watirah, a 53-year-old farmer from Pasir Panjang village, who with other villagers from the affected hamlet in Central Java’s Brebes district tried to outrun the sliding earth.
“I tried to keep going, tried to stand up and screamed loudly for help before I fell again,” said Watirah, who goes by a single name. “I felt my body was so weak I couldn’t stand up, but three people came to save me,” she said. Her husband, Minarto, who was working in a nearby field, also narrowly survived.
Hundreds of rescuers including soldiers and villagers were using their bare hands and farm tools to search for victims buried beneath tons of mud and soil. The search and rescue team was having difficulty finding victims because of the unstable muddy conditions and width of the landslide.
“Heavy equipment cannot be used,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Sutopo said 14 people were hospitalized with injuries. He said 18 others are missing based on reports from residents.
Local disaster official Eko Andalas said the landslide, which started in surrounding hills that are part of a forestry plantation, was triggered by torrential rains.
Disaster officials urged people to stay away from the area because of the risk of further landslides.
Seasonal rains cause widespread flooding and landslides across much of Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands. Millions of people live in mountainous regions and on flood plains.


Florida woman convicted of role in husband’s 2000 killing

Denise Williams listens to witness testimonies during her trial Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP)
Updated 45 min 35 sec ago
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Florida woman convicted of role in husband’s 2000 killing

  • Without a body, Denise Williams petitioned to have her husband declared dead due to accidental drowning

TALLAHASSEE, Florida: After a spellbinding five-day trial that featured tales of infidelity, a multimillion dollar insurance payout and family dysfunction, a jury on Friday convicted a Florida woman of helping mastermind the killing of her husband nearly two decades ago.
Jurors convicted Denise Williams of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for her role in case that has recalled the plot of the Hollywood film classic “Double Indemnity.” The 48-year-old Williams was found guilty after testimony by a key witness in the case, the man who shot her husband Mike Williams on a cold December morning on a large lake west of Tallahassee.
During closing statements, Assistant State Attorney Jon Fuchs described Denise Williams as “stone faced” and asserted she had coldly cashed in on her husband’s demise by collecting proceeds from $1.75 million worth of life insurance policies. Fuchs said the woman had managed to keep the killing a secret for years until the man she was having an affair with — and later married — divulged the details.
Ethan Way, an attorney for Williams, said his client was innocent and that there was no tangible proof that Denise Williams helped plan the slaying of Mike Williams. Instead he maintained that Brian Winchester, who testified in court that he lured Mike Williams on a duck hunting trip in order to kill him, was lying about Denise Williams in order to avoid murder charges.
“They gave a free pass to a murderer and got nothing else,” Way told jurors in his closing statement.
Mike Williams left early on the morning of Dec. 16, 2000, to go hunting, and initially some speculated he had fallen from his boat and that his body had been devoured by alligators. His disappearance triggered a massive search by authorities.
Without a body, Denise Williams petitioned to have her husband declared dead due to accidental drowning. She married Winchester in December 2005, but the relationship soured and they divorced in 2016. Winchester, a financial planner and insurance agent, had been described as Mike Williams’ best friend and sold him a $1 million insurance policy months before he disappeared.
The case broke open, however, after Winchester kidnapped his ex-wife at gunpoint in 2016. He eventually made a deal with prosecutors where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for that crime. But Winchester ultimately led authorities to the remains of Mike Williams, buried along a lake north of Tallahassee. He also agreed to testify against Denise Williams.
During the trial, prosecutors laid out the search for Mike Williams and pointed out how state investigators began suspecting that Denise Williams was involved in the disappearance of her husband. They played a recording in which Winchester’s first wife confronted Denise Williams and said she knew she had helped with the murder. Williams did not respond to the accusation.
Fuchs told jurors it “turns my stomach” that prosecutors gave Winchester immunity in the case, but he said it was important to give “closure” other members of the Williams family who had suspected for years that Mike Williams did not drown. Fuchs said that Winchester would still be in prison for a long time.
Right before he ended, Fuchs took something out of his pocket and placed it before the jury: It was the wedding band that Mike Williams was wearing on the day that he died.