Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - Page 1 News List

At least 59 killed by floods and landslides: Indonesia

AFP, MAKASSAR, Indonesia

Residents take a break from cleaning their property on a flooded street in Makassar, Indonesia, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters / Antara Foto

Floods and landslides in Indonesia have killed at least 59 people, the government said yesterday, after heavy rain pounded Sulawesi Island and forced thousands to flee their homes.

“I’ve never seen something this bad — this is the worst,” Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management South Sulawesi head Syamsibar told reporters, adding that 25 people were still missing.

Lashed by the heavy rain, rivers swelled and burst their banks, inundating dozens of communities in 11 districts of southern Sulawesi. Parts of the provincial capital, Makassar, have also been affected.

Gowa District sustained the heaviest casualties, with 44 people found dead, said Syamsibar, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

About 3,400 people were evacuated from their homes and given refuge in schools, mosques and tents.

Rescuers and residents waded through streets filled with waist-deep water, some carrying their possessions above their heads.

“I couldn’t save all my belongings, my house was swept away,” Makassar resident Ayu Fiskarina told reporters.

Authorities said that floodwaters were receding, but the effects of the disaster have ranged far and wide, damaging houses, government buildings, schools and bridges.

“All the locals in this area have been evacuated to the mosque, except for [a] woman who refuses to leave her house, because she’s scared her belongings could be looted,” Makassar police officer Ardal said.

The death toll stood at 30 on Thursday evening.

Landslides and floods are common in Indonesia, especially during the monsoon season from October to April, when rains lash the vast Southeast Asian archipelago.

Last year, flash floods and landslides killed at least 22 people in several districts across Sumatra Island, while a dozen died when an avalanche of mud and rock cascaded down a steep slope in central Java, Indonesia’s main island.

In 2016 in Central Java, about 50 people died when heavy downpours sent torrents of water, mud and rock into villages.

Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world, straddling the Pacific “ring of fire,” volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are common.

Last month, more than 400 people were killed by a volcano-triggered tsunami in Java, while thousands died in an earthquake-tsunami disaster near Palu on Sulawesi Island in September.

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