INDONESIA: The flash floods and landslides that struck an island in Indonesia on Sunday morning have killed at least 44 people, confirmed the country’s disaster relief agency.
Thousands have been displaced and more than two dozen others were still missing. Before people could rejoice in the celebrations of Sunday’s Easter, torrential rains resulted in flash floods in the country’s easternmost province, the Catholic-filled Flores Island.
Mud tumbled down in Lamenele village from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes, while bridges and roads were destroyed in the eastern end of the island. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said that power cuts hampered relief efforts and roads were blocked by thick mud and debris. Jati added that extreme weather is expected to persist in the coming week. The agency said that a tropical cyclone nearing the Savu Straits could be bringing more rain, waves, and winds.
The flooding on Sunday killed two others in Bima city in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara. The agency confirmed another case where three bodies were recovered after being swept away by the flash floods in Oyang Bayang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed. In another village, Waiburak, three were killed and seven people remained missing when excessive rains burst the river banks, gushing water into large areas of East Flores district. In other news dams overflowed in four subdistricts, submerging nearly 10,000 houses following a nine-hour downpour.
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A Disaster Prone Country
Fatal landslides and flash floods are common across Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions live in mountainous areas. The agency has estimated that nearly half of the country’s population – live in areas prone to landslides.
The flash floods in January hit the country’s Sumedang town in West Java, killing 40 people. Last year, in September, at least 11 people were killed in landslides on Borneo, while a few months earlier dozens died in a similar disaster in Sulawesi.
Environmentalists cite deforestation as a cause of landslides in Indonesia. The country is located in an area with a high degree of tectonic activity, making it vulnerable to regular landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis.