50 dead , 18 injured and 27 missing in Indonesia floods


At least 50 people have died and 27 more were missing after flash floods and cold lava flow from a volcano hit western Indonesia, a local disaster official said Sunday.

Hours of heavy rain caused flooding in two districts in West Sumatra province on Saturday evening and sent sweeping ash and large rocks down Mount Marapi, the most active volcano on the archipelago’s Sumatra island.

“Until now our data shows that 50 people died: 23 in Agam and 27 in Tanah Datar. At least 18 others are injured. We are also still searching for 16 other people,” West Sumatra disaster agency spokesman Ilham Wahab told AFP.

He said the search effort involved local rescuers, police, soldiers and volunteers.

Agam and Tanah Datar districts were hit with flash floods and cold lava flow at around 10:30 pm (1530 GMT) on Saturday, according to Basarnas search and rescue agency.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material like ash, sand and pebbles carried down a volcano’s slopes by rain.

Earlier, Basarnas said 12 people had died including several children.

Ilham said Sunday that authorities were still receiving reports of missing people from relatives.

He said he could not give a figure of the number of people evacuated from the area as the search and rescue effort was still focused on the victims and the missing.

Mosques, houses damaged

In the Tanah Datar district, several mosques and a public pool were damaged in the area with large rocks and logs scattered on the ground, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

In Lembah Anai, a popular tourist spot with a waterfall in Tanah Datar, a road connecting the cities of Padang and Bukittinggi was severely damaged and access for cars was cut off.

At a nearby river, two trucks had been swept away by the flooding and strong river currents, the journalist said.

In Agam, dozens of homes and public facilities were damaged, the district’s disaster agency chief Budi Perwira Negara told AFP.

Nine bodies including those of a three-year-old and eight-year-old were identified earlier on Sunday, head of the local rescue agency Abdul Malik said in a statement.

Authorities dispatched a team of rescuers and rubber boats to look for the missing victims and to transport people to shelters.

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

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

In March at least 26 people had been found dead after landslides and floods hit West Sumatra.

In 2022, about 24,000 people were evacuated and two children killed in floods on Sumatra island, with environmental campaigners blaming deforestation caused by logging for worsening the disaster.

Trees act as natural defences against floods, slowing the rate at which water runs down hills and into rivers.

Marapi is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanos.

In December, it erupted and spewed an ash tower 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) into the sky, taller than the volcano itself.

At least 24 climbers, most of them university students, died in the eruption.

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