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Indonesia: More than 20 dead in Sumatra floods, landslides

March 10, 2024

More than 20,000 homes have flooded up to the roof level on Indonesia's second-most populous island. Meanwhile, landslides have blocked roads and hampered rescue and relief operations.

People walking past a road that was destroyed by flooding
Tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate following torrential rainsImage: Andri Mardiansyah/Xinhua/picture alliance

The death toll has continued to climb after days of torrential rains triggered flash floods and landslides on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, officials said on Sunday.

The West Sumatra capital of Padang has been inundated by flooding since Thursday, while masses of mud, rocks and uprooted trees tumbled down the mountains and tore through villages in Pesisir Selatan district to the south.

"As of Sunday, 21 people were found dead and six people remained missing," Fajar Sukma, an official from the West Sumatra disaster mitigation agency, told the AFP news agency.

The National Disaster Management Agency said more than 80,000 people had fled to temporary government shelters and more than 20,000 homes had flooded up to the roof.

An aerial view of flooding in Padang, Indonesia
Authorities anticipate more rain around Padang in the coming daysImage: Iggoy el Fitra/ Antara Foto/REUTERS

Rescue efforts underway

Those who were evacuated regrouped at mosques where they received food, water and medicine.

Some people have been able to return home but parts of Padang and other areas of western Sumatra remained flooded on Sunday. Roads were also blocked, with one landslide extending for 50 meters (164 ft) in the area of Padang Pariaman.

"Relief efforts for the dead and missing were hampered by power outages, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris," said Doni Yusrizal, a regional disaster management spokesperson.

More rain is forecast for the coming days and authorities have warned of further damage from floods and landslides.

Landslides are common during the rainy season in Indonesia, where millions of people live in the mountains or near floodplains. The problem has been aggregated by deforestation in some areas.

Rescuers pulling a raft through floodwaters in Padang, Indonesia
Many evacuees were taken to mosques where they received food and medicineImage: Iggoy el Fitra/ Antara Foto/REUTERS

zc/nm (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)