Home Asia Indonesia: West Sumatra Faces Flood Fury, Death Toll Mounts

Indonesia: West Sumatra Faces Flood Fury, Death Toll Mounts


Authorities reported on Thursday that the death toll from weekend flash floods and mudslides in West Sumatra province, Indonesia, has increased to 67, with 20 individuals still unaccounted for. In response, the government is considering relocating survivors to areas deemed safer.

According to a statement from the national disaster management agency BNPB, five out of the previously missing 25 individuals were discovered deceased, raising the death toll from 62 as reported on Wednesday. Additionally, over 4,000 individuals have been relocated 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 the survivors whose houses are unlivable 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,” Suharyanto said, adding that the new houses would be ready within six months.

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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 released by BNPB depicted debris such as logs, rocks, and mud scattered across roads, along with collapsed bridges and houses in Tanah Datar, which is one of the three districts in West Sumatra affected by the floods.

With Inputs From Reuters