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Indonesia, Malaysia brace for more rain, floods

Indonesia, Malaysia brace for more rain, floods

More downpours were forecast Saturday for Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where rain-triggered floods and landslides have killed at least 158 people and displaced at least half a million in the past week.
Another 163 people remain missing and are feared dead after torrential waters swept away thousands of homes in the Southeast Asian nations, mostly in Indonesia, officials said.
Hardest hit is northern Sumatra, where roads and bridges were washed away, complicating relief efforts.
Urgently needed food and medical supplies had not yet reached about 7,000 people by Saturday, a week after the heaviest storms hit, said Aspindo Abusamah, acting mayor of Gayo Lues district. Rations were being carried more than 30 kilometers (nearly 20 miles) on foot after airlifts were canceled due to the poor weather.
Another 4,200 people in other parts of Aceh face acute food shortages, said Ishak, a local official in Bener Meriah who like many Indonesians uses a single name.
Accurate figures have been difficult to compile, but officials said Saturday that 76 people had died in Aceh province and 70 in North Sumatra province.
Helicopters have dropped food, tents and medicine to survivors in some of the more remote villages, while volunteers in dinghies helped distribute aid.
"We're seeing people with skin disease, fever and colds," said Jabad, an official in the area. "They badly need medicine and clean drinking water."
In neighboring Malaysia, which is experiencing its most severe weather in a century, the death toll rose to 12 after authorities in Johor state recovered the body of a 5-year-old girl who had gone missing two days earlier when floodwaters swept away the car she was in, the national news agency Bernama reported.
A spokesman for the state's floods operations center said a search was on for a 18-year-old youth who was swept away by swift currents Friday night.
Seasonal downpours regularly cause landslides and flash floods in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, where millions of people live in mountainous areas or in flood plains.
The Aceh disaster relief task force said more than 13,000 homes across six districts were severely damaged or washed away, more than 1,700 of them in Aceh Tamiang district, where waters were several meters (yards) deep in some areas.
About 240,000 people remained displaced in shelters in Aceh by the weekend, officials said, after around 200,000 returned to their villages to clear away mud and debris.
Aceh was the hardest hit province in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, losing an estimated 167,000 people, but the floods and landslides have affected inland areas that were untouched by that disaster.
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Associated Press writers Irwan Firdaus in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Sean Yoong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-06-12 22:17 GMT+08:00