May 19, 2024

At least 26 people reported killed and 11 missing as rescuers recover more bodies.

Flash floods and landslides have killed at least 26 people on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Giving the update on Monday, officials reported that 11 others are missing, and warned that the casualty count could rise. Rescuers have recovered more bodies as the waters recede following flash floods and landslides caused by torrential monsoon rains.

The flooding has submerged nine districts and cities in West Sumatra province since Thursday. Late on Friday, a large mudslide caused a river to breach its banks and tear through mountainside villages in Pesisir Selatan district.

Relief efforts have been hampered by power outages, damaged bridges and roads blocked by thick mud and debris, the National Disaster Management Agency said on Monday.

Spokesman Abdul Muhari said rescuers had recovered more bodies, mostly in the worst-hit villages in Pesisir Selatan and the neighbouring Padang Pariaman district, bringing the death toll to 26.

Landslides buried at least 14 houses, he said. At least two villagers were injured in that incident, and he said rescuers were still searching for 11 people.

More than 37,000 houses and buildings have been submerged in the West Sumatra province, Muhari said. At least three houses were swept away by flash floods and 666 others were damaged.

Fajar Sukma, an official from West Sumatra’s disaster mitigation agency, said rescue efforts have also been hampered by extreme weather.

“It is still raining today and rescuers are conducting the rescue operation in the middle of the rain,” he said. “There’s a possibility that the number of casualties will continue to rise as we update the report.”

Floods also damaged 26 bridges, 45 mosques and 25 schools; and destroyed 13 roads, two irrigation system units, which in turn submerged 113 hectares (279 acres) of rice fields and 300sq metres (3,230sq feet) of plantation, the agency said.

Heavy rains cause frequent landslides and flash floods in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near floodplains.

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