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Indonesia's toll rises to 62 from deadly Sumatra floods, 25 still missing

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May 15, 2024
Aidil Ichlas - Reuters

By Aidil Ichlas

LA Post: Indonesia's toll rises to 62 from deadly Sumatra floods, 25 still missing

TANAH DATAR, Indonesia (Reuters) -The death toll from weekend flash floods and mud slides in Indonesia's West Sumatra province rose to 62 on Wednesday, authorities said, while rescuers were searching areas near rivers for 25 people who are still missing.

Officials said some of those earlier unaccounted for were found dead during the day, which lifted the toll from 58 reported in the morning.

A video shared by the national disaster management agency BNPB showed logs, rocks and mud strewn over roads, collapsed bridges and houses in Tanah Datar, one of the three districts in West Sumatra hit by the floods.

The disaster struck the area on Saturday evening when heavy rains unleashed flash floods, landslides, and cold lava flow - a mud-like mixture of volcanic ash, rock debris and water.

The cold lava flow, came from Mount Marapi, one of Sumatra's most active volcanoes. Its eruption in December killed more than 20 people and more eruptions have followed since.

BNPB will continue to search for the missing people and clean the main roads, its head Suharyanto said in a statement on Wednesday

Sisters Fitrawanis, 64, and Nurbaiti, 66, watched in tears the ruins of their brother's house in Tanah Datar. They said the brother, Rusdi, 60, was still missing after water swept him away when he tried to save his mother-in-law.

"I hope that his body can be found quickly, either alive or dead," Fitrawanis told Reuters. She said both in-laws and Rusdi's wife have been found dead.

At least 249 houses, 225 hectares (556 acres) of land, including rice fields, 19 bridges and most of main roads were damaged in three districts and one town.

Indonesia's meteorology agency BMKG said it planned to try to mitigate heavy rainfall expected for the next week in West Sumatra by "cloud seeding" to prevent rains in the worst affected areas.

Widely used in Indonesia, cloud seeding involves shooting salt flares into clouds to trigger rainfall in dry areas.

(Reporting by Aidil Ichlas in Western Sumatra and Ananda Teresia in Jakarta; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Tomasz Janowski)

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