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Flash Floods and Cold Lava Flow Claim 41 Lives in Western Indonesia

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Devastating flash floods and cold lava flow from Mount Marapi on Sumatra Island in Western Indonesia have resulted in a tragic loss of life, with the death toll rising to 41 and 17 individuals still missing, according to local disaster agency officials.

The catastrophe unfolded as heavy rains triggered large volcanic rocks to cascade down the slopes of Mount Marapi in West Sumatra on the evening of May 11. This natural calamity inundated two districts—Agam and Tanah Datar—causing widespread destruction to roads, homes, and mosques.

Ilham Wahab, an official from the West Sumatra disaster mitigation agency, informed AFP that the initial death count was 37 victims, but it has since tragically increased to 41. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing to locate the missing 17 individuals, with a focus on the most severely impacted areas of Agam and Tanah Datar.

Abdul Malik, the head of the search and rescue agency in the provincial capital of Pandang, reported the recovery of two young victims—a three-year-old and an eight-year-old—among the deceased.

West Sumatra Governor Mahyeldi Ansharullah disclosed that around 130 people sought refuge in an elementary school in Agam, while over 2,000 individuals were evacuated to various locations in Tanah Datar. The devastating effects of the floods and rockfall turned roads into waterways, damaging mosques, houses, and vehicles.

Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology, and geophysics Agency (BMKG) shared insights on the perpetual risk of floods and landslides in West Sumatra due to the region’s unique geographical conditions. Dwikorita Karnawati of BMKG highlighted the continuous vulnerability of the area to such natural disasters.

The disaster mitigation efforts by the national disaster agency, BNPB, included setting up evacuation centers and emergency posts to assist the affected communities in Agam and Tanah Datar.

The recent catastrophic events in West Sumatra echo the country’s past struggles with environmental challenges, including the devastating impact of landslides and floods during rainy seasons and previous volcanic eruptions that claimed lives.

Rescue operations continue in full force as Indonesia grapples with the aftermath of the flash floods and cold lava flow, underscoring the resilience and unity of communities in the face of natural disasters.

Rachel Adams

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