Death toll from Sumatra floods rises to 67 as thousands evacuated in Indonesia

Ananda Teresia
Reuters
2 Min Read
Flash flooding and landslides in West Sumatra, Indonesia, have killed almost 70 people. (EPA PHOTO)
Flash flooding and landslides in West Sumatra, Indonesia, have killed almost 70 people. (EPA PHOTO) Credit: EPA

The number of people killed by weekend flash floods and mudslides in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province has risen to 67 and 20 are still missing, as the government plans to relocate survivors to safer areas.

Five of the 25 previously missing were found dead, increasing the death toll from 62 reported on Wednesday, the national disaster management agency BNPB said in a statement on Thursday. More than 4000 people have been evacuated to nearby buildings and temporary shelters.

At least 521 houses, 31,985 hectares of land including rice fields, 19 bridges, and most main roads were damaged.

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The government plans to relocate the survivors whose houses are unliveable and those living in disaster-prone areas, BNPB head Suharyanto said in a statement.

BNPB and the West Sumatra provincial government are now gathering data on how many survivors need to be relocated and are searching for safe areas to build new houses.

“The government will provide the land and build the houses,” Suharyanto said, adding that the new houses would be ready within six months.

It’s still unclear when the relocation will start.

The disaster struck the area on Saturday evening when heavy rains unleashed flash floods, landslides, and cold lava flow - a mud-like mixture of volcanic ash, rock debris, and water. Three districts and one town are affected.

The cold lava flow, known in Indonesia as a lahar, came from Mount Marapi, one of Sumatra’s most active volcanoes. Its eruption in December killed more than 20 people and more eruptions have followed since then.

BNPB, helped by police and military, will continue searching for the 20 missing persons and clean the main roads over the next seven days, an agency spokesperson said.

A video shared by BNPB showed logs, rocks, and mud strewn over roads, collapsed bridges, and houses in Tanah Datar, one of the three districts in West Sumatra hit by the floods.

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