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Flash floods, landslide kill at least 109 on Indonesia's Sumatra island

Flash floods, landslide kill at least 109 on Indonesia's Sumatra island

Emergency rations and medicine were airlifted Wednesday to 414,000 people displaced by torrential rains on Sumatra island, where flash floods and a landslide have killed at least 109 and left hundreds missing.
Survivors waded through shoulder-high water, stood on rooftops or paddled boats to dry land in Aceh province _ the area hardest hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami _ and rescue workers complained that washed out roads and bridges have for days hampered their efforts.
"The waters are receding now and some roads have been repaired, so we're starting to get supplies through," Syamsul Maarif, who heads the National Coordination Body for Disaster Relief, said Wednesday.
"The most urgent thing now is medicine and mosquito nets," he added, pointing to the threat of dengue fever and other waterborne disease.
The natural disaster followed days of torrential seasonal rain, the cause of dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in the sprawling archipelagic nation, where millions of people live in mountainous areas or in fertile flood plains.
Authorities were struggling to tally the dead and missing, saying some victims were probably stranded in surrounding hills.
At least 70 people were killed and 205 missing in Aceh, located on Sumatra's northernmost tip, and more than 365,000 people have been displaced, said Suwarno Amin, an official with the province's disaster task force.
Food and medicine was being flown by helicopter to six districts, he added.
In neighboring North Sumatra province another 31 people were buried in a landslide and 11 others died in flash floods, said Edy Sofyan, a local government spokesman, putting the number of missing there at 14.
He warned that heavy rain _ which has forced more than 44,000 from their homes in the province _ was continuing and could trigger more landslides in coming days.
But as waters started to subside on Wednesday, thousands of victims headed for shelters on the road to the regional capital, Medan, many suffering from skin problems and fever caused by poor hygiene and dirty water, said Abul Hayat, a spokesman for the Red Cross.
The United States added to a list of foreign governments and donors offering assistance, saying it would provide US$100,000 (


Updated : 2021-01-16 10:41 GMT+08:00