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

The number of people killed by weekend flash floods and mud slides in Indonesia's West Sumatra province has risen to 67 and 20 are still missing, authorities said on May 16, 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 May 15, 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, 31,985ha of land including rice fields, 19 bridges, and most main roads were damaged.

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 are needed to be relocated and are searching safe areas to build the new houses.

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

It is still unclear when the relocation will start.

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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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