The death toll from the floods in Indonesia rises to 41, while 17 are missing

5 Min Read

Rescuers carry the body of a flash flood victim in Tanah Datar, West Sumatra, Indonesia, on May 13, 2024. | Photo credit: AP

The number of people killed this weekend by flash floods and cold lava flow from a volcano in western Indonesia has risen to 41, while 17 remain missing, an official from the local disaster agency said. AFP, 13 May.

Hours of heavy rain caused large volcanic rocks to roll down one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes into two districts on Sumatra island on the evening of May 11, while flooded roads, homes and mosques were inundated.

“Data from last night we recorded 37 dead victims… But from this morning it has grown again, the figure reached 41 [dead]Ilham Wahab, an official from the disaster management agency in West Sumatra, said AFP.

Rescuers were searching for 17 people still missing, three in Agam district and 14 in Tanah Datar, both the worst-hit areas of the flood and home to hundreds of thousands of people, he said.

Abdul Malik, head of the search and rescue bureau in the provincial capital Pandang, told reporters on May 12 that among the bodies found were two children: a three-year-old and an eight-year-old.

Mr Ilham encouraged “people to evacuate to relatives’ places, which are safer” than tent shelters during heavy rain. “We are focusing first and foremost on searching and rescuing the victims, and secondly on protecting the evacuees and protecting the vulnerable people,” he said.

West Sumatra Governor Mahyeldi Ansharullah told reporters on May 13 that about 130 people had been evacuated to a primary school in Agam, while more than 2,000 people had been evacuated to several places in Tanah Datar. Roads in the districts were turned into rivers, damaging mosques and houses.

See also  Demonstrations rock US campuses ahead of graduation ceremonies as demonstrators spar over the war in Gaza

Heavy rains inundated neighborhoods with muddy floodwaters and swept vehicles into a nearby river, while volcanic ash and large rocks thundered down Mount Marapi.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material such as ash, sand and pebbles that are carried down the slopes of a volcano by rain.

Survivors spoke of their shock

Authorities sent a team of rescuers and rubber boats to search for missing victims and transport people to shelters.

The local government has set up evacuation centers and emergency posts in several areas of Agam and Tanah Datar.

According to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), 84 houses, 16 bridges and two mosques were damaged in Tanah Datar, as well as 20 hectares of rice fields.

Survivors described their horror as the flooding and rockfall began.

“I heard thunder and the sound like boiling water. It was the sound of large stones falling,” said housewife Rina Devina. AFP, adding that three of her neighbors were murdered. “It was pitch black, so I used my cell phone as a flashlight. The road was muddy, so I sang ‘God, have mercy!’ over and over,” she said of her evacuation to a local official’s office.

Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), told reporters on May 13 that West Sumatra was a “unique location” because parts of the province could receive rain almost all year round. “So the potential for flooding and landslides is always there,” she said.

Indonesia is prone to landslides and floods during the rainy season.

In 2022, about 24,000 people were evacuated and two children were killed in flooding on the island of Sumatra, with environmentalists blaming deforestation due to logging for worsening the disaster.

See also  A 30-year US study links ultra-processed foods to a higher risk of premature death

Trees act as a natural defense against flooding and slow the speed at which water flows from hills to rivers.

Marapi’s last major eruption occurred in December and spewed a tower of ash about 3,000 meters into the sky, taller than the volcano itself. At least 24 climbers, most of them university students, died in the eruption.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *