Indonesia flash floods kill 44, toll expected to rise

AFP
At least 44 people were killed after flash floods and landslides swept an island in Indonesia's easternmost province yesterday, rescue officials said, warning the toll could rise.
AFP

At least 44 people were killed after flash floods and landslides swept an island in Indonesia’s easternmost province yesterday morning, rescue officials said, warning the toll could rise.

“There are 44 people dead with nine injured” in East Flores regency, and “many are still under the mud,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said.

Hours before people woke up to celebrate Easter Sunday, torrential rain unleashed flash floods in the Catholic-majority Flores Island.

Mud inundated homes, while bridges and roads in the eastern end of the island were destroyed.

Rescuers are struggling to reach the remote and worst-hit area in East Flores regency because of rains and strong waves.

The death toll rose from 23 earlier announced by authorities. The number of injured is also expected to rise as the agency is still receiving reports from locals, Jati said.

“We are still documenting the total number of people injured,” the spokesperson said, adding that extreme weather is expected to continue during the week.

Separately, major floods also killed two people in Bima city in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara, the disaster agency added.

Dams in four subdistricts also overflowed, submerging nearly 10,000 houses in Bima following a nine-hour downpour, said Jati.

Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season.

In January, flash floods hit the town of Sumedang in West Java, killing 40 people.

And last September, at least 11 people were killed in landslides on Borneo while a few months earlier dozens died in a similar disaster in Sulawesi.

Deforestation is often a cause of the landslides, according to environmentalists.

The disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians — nearly half of the nation’s population — live in areas at risk of landslides.

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