Floods kill 37 in Indonesia’s West Sumatra

TANAH DATAR, Indonesia — Flash floods and mud slides in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province killed at least 43 people over the weekend while a search for 15 missing people continued, authorities said Monday.

Torrential rain 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 in West Sumatra province, Abdul Malik, chief of the provincial rescue team, told Reuters.

The cold lava flow, known in Indonesia as a lahar, came from Mount Marapi, one of Sumatra’s most active volcanoes.

In December, more than 20 people were killed after Marapi erupted. A series of eruptions has followed since.

“The heavy rain swept materials such as ash and large rocks from the Marapi volcano,” Abdul Malik said.

“Cold lava flow and flash floods have always been threats to us recently. But the problem is, it always happens late at night until dawn,” he added.

Abdul said around 400 personnel, including rescuers, police and military, had been deployed to search for the missing people on Monday, helped by at least eight excavators and drones.

Vehicles lie stranded in a river in West Sumatra on Sunday.AFP – Getty Images

The national disaster and management agency BNPB said in a statement that almost 200 houses were damaged and 178 acres of land, including rice fields, were affected. At least 159 people from Agam district have been evacuated to nearby schools.

Footage shared by the BNPB showed the roads and rice fields covered by mud. Video also showed the wreckage of damaged homes and buildings, while the floods brought logs and large rocks into settlements.

Eko Widodo, a 43-year-old survivor, said: “The flooding was sudden and the river became blocked, which resulted in the flow of water everywhere and it was out of control.”

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