Rescuers hunt for survivors as Indonesia floods death toll rises

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Rescuers in Indonesia are racing to find more than two dozen people still missing after torrential rains unleashed flash floods and landslides that killed at least 30 people in South Sulawesi province, according to officials.

Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes as heavy rainfall and strong winds pounded the southern part of Sulawesi island on Wednesday and Thursday, swelling rivers that burst their banks and inundating dozens of communities in nine districts.

“So far we have found 30 people who drowned or were caught in landslides triggered by heavy rains and when the Bili-Bili dam started overflowing,” Hasriadi, an official with Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, said on Thursday evening.

The death toll had stood at 26 in the morning.

Volunteers evacuate a dog in Makassar, South Sulawesi [Antara Foto/Sahrul Manda Tikupadang via Reuters]

One major highway was blocked, prompting authorities to deliver aid via helicopter, according to local media. Parts of the provincial capital, Makassar, were also affected.

Aerial images showed muddy brown water covering swaths of lands and, in some areas, rushing water washing away houses and debris.

Search ongoing

Residents waded through streets filled with waist-deep water, some carrying their belongings above their heads, as they fled to temporary shelters and field kitchens set up by the disaster mitigation agency.

On Thursday, the agency said that while flooding in the province was receding “the search and evacuation process is still ongoing”. Twenty-five people are still missing.

Parts of Makassar were inundated with floodwaters [Antara Foto/Abriawan Abhe via Reuters]

“We urge people to always be aware of the possibility of floods and landslides,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster agency, said.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated and at least 46 are being treated at local hospitals and health clinics.

The floods also damaged houses, government buildings, schools and bridges.

Landslides and flooding are common in disaster-prone Indonesia, especially during the monsoon season between October and April, when rain lashes the vast Southeast Asian archipelago.

In October, flash floods and landslides killed at least 22 people in several districts across Sumatra island.


SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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