At Least 34 Confirmed Dead In Indonesia Floods, 16 Missing

No fewer than 34 people have been confirmed dead and 16 more still missing in western Indonesia after flash floods and cold lava flow from one of the archipelago’s most active volcanos damaged homes, roads and mosques, officials disclosed on Monday morning.

Yesterday evening, hours of intense rain resulted in floods in the West Sumatra province’s Agam and Tanah Datar districts, endangering hundreds of residents as the downpours carried big rocks and ash down Mount Marapi.

“I heard the thunder and the sound similar to boiling water. It was the sound of big rocks falling,” housewife Rina Devina told reporters, adding that three of her neighbours were killed.

“It was pitch black, so I used my cellphone as a flashlight. The road was muddy, so I chanted ‘God, have mercy!’ over and over again,” she said of her evacuation to a local official’s office.

West Sumatra disaster agency said 16 people died in Agam district and 18 in Tanah Datar, with 18 people injured overall.

“We are also still searching for 16 other people,” agency spokesman Ilham Wahab told AFP.

He said the search effort involved local rescuers, police, soldiers and volunteers.

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Abdul Malik, head of the search and rescue agency in provincial capital Pandang, told reporters three more people had died but they were yet to be confirmed by other authorities.

The flash floods and cold lava flow hit the two districts at around 10:30 pm (1530 GMT) on Saturday, according to the Basarnas search and rescue agency.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material such as ash, sand and pebbles carried down a volcano’s slopes by rain.

Abdul Muhari, spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency, or BNPB, said in a statement that 84 homes, 16 bridges and two mosques were damaged in Tanah Datar, as were 20 hectares (49.4 acres) of rice fields.

Africa Today News, New York reports that about 370,000 people live in the district, where several mosques and a public pool were also damaged, with large rocks and logs scattered on the ground, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

In Lembah Anai, a popular tourist spot with a waterfall in Tanah Datar, a road connecting the cities of Padang and Bukittinggi was severely damaged and access for cars was cut off.

Africa Today News, New York

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