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22 dead in Indonesia floods, landslides
October 14, 2018
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JAKARTA: Flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains in Indonesia have killed at least 22 people, including 11 schoolchildren, left 15 missing, and destroyed hundreds of homes, authorities said on Saturday.

More than 500 homes in the provinces of North and West Sumatra have been flooded or damaged, with some swept away by the floods, which also destroyed three suspension bridges, said a disaster relief official.

“Evacuation as well as search and rescue operations are underway,” said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for disaster mitigation agency BNPB. “But the affected villages are in the mountains and access is difficult, due to damaged roads.”

In North Sumatra, 11 children studying at an Islamic village school died after their classroom wall collapsed when a nearby river overflowed on Friday.

“The victims were buried in a torrent of mud and wall debris,” Sutopo added.

Rescuers are hunting for one student still missing from the 29 in the class at the time, but have accounted for all the rest, regional police chief Irsan Sinuhaji told Reuters, adding that authorities were checking for other people who may have gone missing.

Two people were found dead on Saturday after their vehicles were swept away by the river.

Four people died in landslides in the city of Sibolga in North Sumatra, while flash floods in West Sumatra killed four more, including two children.

“Eleven students of a boarding school in Muara Saladi village, Mandailing Natal district, North Sumatra died on Friday afternoon during class as they were struck by a building which was destroyed by the flash floods,” spokesman for the national disaster agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Dozens of houses have also been destroyed.

“The disaster and search and rescue agency have gone to the districts but have been hampered by the landslides in several areas,” the head of North Sumatra disaster agency Riadil Lubis said.

Landslides and flooding are common in Indonesia, a vast tropical archipelago prone to natural disasters and torrential downpours.

In February, 12 people died when an avalanche of mud and rock cascaded down a steep slope in central Java, Indonesia’s main island.

In June 2016, nearly 50 people died when heavy downpours sent torrents of water, mud and rock into villages also in Central Java province.

Mandailing Natal Police Chief Irsan Sinuhaji told Reuters authorities were currently checking for other possible missing victims.

“The head of the district is checking with local families for missing people...because 12 houses were swept away by the floods and nine houses were heavily damaged,” he said.

The Mandailing Natal police chief confirmed all were accounted for apart from the 11 confirmed dead and one missing.

Photos of the disaster carried in local media depicted rescuers digging through mud and rubble in a collapsed building.

Thousands of survivors of a devastating quake-tsunami prayed on Friday by the shores of disaster-struck Palu, as the UN chief praised their “resilience” during a tour of the devastated Indonesian city.

The 7.5-magnitude quake and wall of water that tore through the city on Sulawesi island on Sept.28 killed more than 2,000 and left thousands more missing, presumed dead.

Entire villages were sucked into the earth at hard-hit areas like Balaroa, when soil turned to mush under the force of the quake.


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