Indonesia’s death toll rises to 67 from Sumatra floods, 20 still missing

By Aidil Ichlas

TANAH DATAR, Indonesia (Reuters) – In tears, Yose Rizal, 43, placed flowers on the graves of his sister and niece, who died during the intense flooding in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province. Three of Yose’s relatives are still missing.

Yose’s family was having a meeting when the flash floods struck on Saturday evening, he said.

“The water came very sudden, it is difficult to escape,” Yose told Reuters. “Praise the Lord, my parents, who were at the meeting, survived”

The number of people killed by flash floods and mud slides over the weekend has risen to 67, and 20 are still missing, authorities said on Thursday. The government plans to relocate survivors to safer areas.

Five who had been reported missing were found dead, increasing the death toll from 62 on Wednesday, the national disaster management agency BNPB said in a statement. More than 4,000 people have been evacuated to nearby buildings and temporary shelters.

At least 521 houses, 31,985 hectares (79,037 acres) of land, including rice fields, 19 bridges, and most main roads were damaged.

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

BNPB and the West Sumatra provincial government are now gathering data on how many people need to be relocated, and are searching for safe areas to build the 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 is unclear when the relocation will start.

The weekend’s 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 were 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 missing and clean the main roads over the next seven days.

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.

(This story has been refiled to remove an extraneous word from paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Aidil Ichlas in Tanah Datar, West Sumatra and Ananda Teresia in Jakarta; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)



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