At least 38 killed after flash flooding in Indonesia

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A spokesman for the Indonesian government has said that at least 38 people were killed following flash flooding in the North Sumatra province on Tuesday.

The flood, which began in the early morning, struck the Mandailing Natal Regency, 275 kilometres from the provincial capital, Medan.

The country's health ministry crisis centre leader, Rustam Pakaya, said the floods began at 2:00 local time (UTC+7) and soon reached a depth of two metres. Pakaya said that rescue efforts were hampered by muddy roads.

North Sumatra in red

"Our latest information from the local district head is that 38 bodies have been found so far. Our main priority is to rescue the survivors. The flash floods hit six villages with about 2,200 residents," said spokesman Edy Sysopian to the Agence France-Presse news agency.

"The rescue process is difficult because the two bridges [...] to the villages collapsed. The other way to reach the affected area is by sea using speed boats, but strong weather [...] is making that difficult."

Syamsul Arifin, the North Sumatra governor, said that fifty tonnes of rice were sent to the victims of the flooding out of government reserves.

The governor said that "we have instructed the local social services office to provide food and assistance, including blankets and tents, while for the time being the health office is providing medicine."