Natural Disasters

Rescuers Battle Time and Terrain to Find Survivors in West Sumatra

Main image to the post Rescuers Battle Time and Terrain to Find Survivors in West Sumatra

Flash Floods Devastate Villages in Indonesia

Rescuers in Indonesia are desperately searching for survivors and recovering bodies following devastating flash floods that hit the island of Sumatra over the weekend. The deluge, caused by monsoon rains and a landslide of mud and cold lava from Mount Marapi, tore through villages in four districts of West Sumatra province.

The floods swept away people and homes, leaving hundreds of buildings submerged and forcing over 3,300 residents to flee to temporary shelters. As of Tuesday, 50 bodies had been recovered, with rescue efforts focused on finding 27 people still missing.

Television reports showed rescue personnel working tirelessly in Agam district, where roads were transformed into muddy rivers and villages were buried under thick mud, rocks, and uprooted trees. They used jackhammers, circular saws, farm tools, and even their bare hands to search for survivors.

In Tanah Datar district, rescuers were focused on finding four people from a group of seven who were swept away with their cars. Three bodies were recovered on Monday.

The death toll is expected to rise as many remain missing and some remote areas are still unreachable.

Frequent Disasters in Indonesia

Heavy rains often cause landslides and flash floods in Indonesia, a nation of over 17,000 islands where millions live in mountainous areas or near floodplains. This weekend's disaster comes just two months after similar events killed at least 26 people in West Sumatra.

Indonesia is also prone to volcanic eruptions. A surprise eruption of Mount Marapi late last year killed 23 climbers. The mountain has been active since an eruption in January 2024 and is among over 120 active volcanoes in the country.

Indonesia's location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines, makes it susceptible to seismic activity and natural disasters.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09