In Indonesia, at least thirty-four dead in flash floods and cold lava flows

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A road damaged by flash floods and cold lava flows from Mount Marapi, a volcano in west Sumatra island, Indonesia, May 12, 2024. REZAN SOLEH / AFP

At least thirty-four people, including several children, have died and sixteen are missing due to flash floods and cold lava flows in western Indonesia, emergency services said on Sunday, May 12.

“As far as we know, thirty-four people died: sixteen in Agam and eighteen in Tanah Datar. At least eighteen [autres] people are injured. We are also still looking for sixteen other people”Ilham Wahab told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The tragedy occurred on Saturday in the kabupaten (administrative subdivision of a province) of Agam and Tanah Datar, West Sumatra province, around 10:30 p.m. local time (5:30 p.m. BST) on Saturday, according to the search and rescue agency Basarnas. For hours, torrential rains fell on the region, causing flash floods and cold lava flows from Mount Marapi, a volcano located in the west of the island, detailed the agency.

The head of the agency, Abdul Malik, shared an initial report of twelve dead and four missing in the Agam district. Nine of the victims could be identified on Sunday, including two children aged 3 and 8, he said, adding: ” Today [dimanche], we will continue research in both kabupaten. »

>People inspect an area affected by the flash flood that killed several people in Agam, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Sunday, May 12, 2024.>

People inspect an area affected by the flash flood that killed several people in Agam, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Sunday, May 12, 2024.

People inspect an area affected by the flash flood that killed several people in Agam, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Sunday, May 12, 2024. ALI NAYAKA / AP

Local rescuers, police, soldiers and volunteers are participating in the search efforts, said Ilham Wahab. The local government has opened evacuation centers and emergency response stations in several areas of both kabupaten. Rescuers travel in rubber boats to search for missing people and transfer residents to areas spared by water.

Cold lava is a magma formed by the various materials that make up the walls of a volcano: ash, sand and rocks. Under the effect of rain, these can mix and flow along the crater.

Landslides and flooding are common in Indonesia during the rainy season. In March, at least twenty-six people died in landslides and floods in West Sumatra.

Read also | Indonesia: thousands of residents evacuated due to erupting volcano and risk of tsunami

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