Officials in Indonesia report that torrential rains, which caused major flooding and landslides on the island of Java, are responsible for the loss of 43 villagers. Officials fear that number will continue to rise over the next few days as rescue teams search for the missing.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, of the National Disaster Management Mitigation Agency, told ABC News that in the districts of West Java’s Garut and Sumedang nine villagers are still listed as missing. In Garut, Indonesia’s hardest-hit region, 16 people have been confirmed dead and eight are still listed as missing after two rivers escaped their banks late Tuesday night.
A list that was released by the National District Management Mitigation Agency shows that the rising waters of the Cimanuk and Cikamuri rivers caused deaths in Garut. Those deaths include seven women and six children. Among the children was an 8-month-old baby, reports TIME.
Nugroho told local media that an estimated 1,000 villagers were evacuated to temporary shelters and some were taken to an army barracks. He adds that in Sumedang, three villagers were killed and one is still listed as missing after major landslides completely buried two houses and destroyed the village’s mosque. An estimated 100 villagers were evacuated from the village and over 30 villagers suffered injuries in those two districts.
Across the flooded regions hundreds of volunteers searched the destroyed homes and mounds of displaced earth for missing villagers. The powerful flood waters moved walls of mud, rock, and water, and it swallowed up buildings and homes and swept drivers off roadways as it raced downhill. Hundreds of homes were severely damaged and many were completely wiped out.
As the ravaging water raced through villages, the villagers were forced onto rooftops. Rescue teams used excavators to search for survivors in areas that were accessible. In more remote areas, volunteers were forced to dig through debris using shovels and their bare hands.
Landslides and widespread flooding are not uncommon across Indonesia. Many of its villages rest in flood plains along rivers.
Nugroho says that the La Nina weather system, that commonly causes unseasonably heavy rains, may have been a big contributor to this weekend’s disaster. Java should be entering its dry season, but has been hit by torrential downpours over the past several weeks. El Nino has affected Indonesia and other parts of Asia with sizzling temperatures. La Nina often follows what is known as the El Nino phenomenon.
Disaster management says that on Wednesday, the flood waters have begun receding in several areas, reports Business Times. Even though Indonesia’s water levels are dropping the situation is still a critical one. For more CDA News follow our Tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By Tammy Marie Rose