Floods, landslide in Indonesia kill 19; seven missing

Days of torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province, prompting the evacuation of more than 70,000 people and resulting in at least 19 deaths, with seven others missing, authorities reported Sunday.

The destruction, which began last Thursday, has affected the provincial capital, Padang, and eight other areas, damaging nearly 700 homes, multiple bridges and schools, and 113 hectares (about 280 acres) of farmland, officials said.

Indonesia’s rescue teams are searching for the missing, with efforts involving 150 rescuers facing challenges due to roads blocked by landslides. “Today’s search includes 150 personnel from various disaster agencies,” said Abdul Malik, the head of the provincial rescue team, in a statement.

Evacuees have taken refuge in nearby mosques, according to Abdul Muhari, spokesperson for Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), though no temporary shelters have been established. They have received food, water, and medical supplies, while others have returned home as the floodwaters receded.

Most areas in Padang remain underwater, Muhari added, with a landslide blocking roads over a stretch of 50 meters (164 feet) in Padang Pariaman.

With additional rainfall forecast in the coming days, the agency has warned of further risks from floods and landslides. Indonesia’s rainy season, which began in January, is expected to peak in the first quarter, especially on the islands of Java and Sumatra, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).