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Floods in Indonesia leave 52 dead and force evacuations

The number of people killed by flash floods and mudslides in Indonesia's West Sumatra province has risen to 52, and more than 3,000 people have been evacuated, authorities said on Tuesday, with heavy rains expected until next week.

Torrential rains last Saturday night (11) caused flash floods, landslides and cold lava flows – a mud-like mixture of volcanic ash, rocky debris and water – in three districts of West Sumatra province. On Monday (13), the death toll was 43.

The cold lava flow, known in Indonesia as a “lahar,” came from Mount Marapi, one of Sumatra's most active volcanoes.

More than 20 people died when Marapi erupted in December. A series of eruptions have followed since then.

Of the 52 dead, more than 45 have been identified, West Sumatra disaster agency spokesman Ilham Wahab said.

Local rescue teams, police and the military will continue to search for 17 people who are still missing, he added.

Ilham said 249 houses, 225 hectares of land including rice fields and most of the main roads in the three districts were damaged. The floods have receded since Sunday (12).

“In addition to the search for the missing people, we will focus on clearing the main roads of mud, logs and large stones brought by the floods onto the roads and settlements,” Ilham said.

As of Tuesday, 3,396 people had been evacuated to nearby buildings, the head of the national disaster and management agency (BNPB), Suharyanto, said in a statement.

The BNPB distributed tents, blankets, food, hygiene kits, portable toilets and water purifiers, said Suharyanto, who uses a single name like many Indonesians.

However, distribution was hampered as most roads were covered in mud and debris, he said.

Heavy rains in West Sumatra province are still expected until next week, said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia's meteorological agency BMKG.

“This means we need to be alert to possible flash floods and landslides until at least May 17 and 22,” she said.

The BMKG also warned people to stay away from landslide-prone slopes.
Roza Yolanda, 23, was relaxing in her home when heavy rain fell over the weekend. Water entered her home seconds after a power outage.

“I was swept out of my house by the floods and into the streets, about 200 meters,” Roza said. “My neck was hit by logs, I hit walls, windows.”

She was floating for about 15 minutes before being saved. Roza, who suffered bruises all over her body, said her mother is fine, but her father is still missing.

Source: CNN Brasil

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