Indonesia searches for 35 still missing in deadly Sumatra floods

In West Sumatra, Indonesia, heavy rains caused flash floods, landslides, and cold lava flow from Mount Marapi, resulting in 58 deaths and 35 missing persons. The national disaster agency, BNPB, is conducting search and rescue efforts, focusing on areas near rivers and clearing debris.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Deadly Flash Floods and Landslides Strike West Sumatra, Indonesia

The disaster damaged hundreds of homes, large areas of farmland, and numerous bridges and roads.

The search for 35 missing individuals following flash floods and mudslides in Indonesia's West Sumatra province continued on Wednesday, according to authorities, as the death toll from the weekend disaster rose to 58.

Heavy rains on Saturday evening triggered flash floods, landslides, and cold lava flow—a mud-like mixture of volcanic ash, rock debris, and water—in three districts and one town in West Sumatra province. By Tuesday, the death toll had reached 52. The cold lava flow, known in Indonesian as lahar, originated from Mount Marapi, one of Sumatra's most active volcanoes. More than 20 people were killed when Marapi erupted in December, with subsequent eruptions occurring since then.

Why This Matters: The national disaster management agency, BNPB, announced that their search efforts would focus on areas near rivers and clearing main roads of the large rocks, debris, and mud brought by the floods. The agency’s head, Suharyanto, stated this in a Wednesday press release. Videos depicted roads in Tanah Datar district littered with logs, rocks, and mud, along with collapsed bridges and houses.

Local residents, assisted by rescuers, police, and military personnel, were seen cleaning mud from houses and mosques. In some areas, excavators were deployed to remove large rocks and trees.

The disaster damaged at least 249 houses, 225 hectares (556 acres) of land, including rice fields, 19 bridges, and most main roads across three districts and one town. Indonesia's meteorology agency, BMKG, announced plans to mitigate the expected heavy rainfall over the next week in West Sumatra by using "cloud seeding" to prevent rain in the worst-affected areas.

Cloud seeding, a widely used technique in Indonesia, involves dispersing salt flares into clouds to induce rainfall in dry regions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Flash floods and landslides hit West Sumatra, killing 58 people.
  • Mount Marapi’s cold lava flow exacerbates disaster impact in Sumatra.
  • BNPB focuses search efforts on rivers, clearing debris from roads.
  • Extensive damage includes homes, farmland, bridges, and key roads.
  • Cloud seeding planned to manage expected heavy rainfall in Sumatra.
Disaster Floods Indonesia