Flash floods, Landslides Kill at Least 26 People in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island: Over 70,000 Locals Evacuated

Flash floods and landslides killed a total of at least 26 people with 11 others missing amid torrential rain in Sumatra, Indonesia. Since late last week, the popular travel destination of the island of Sumatra was damaged by monsoon rain, causing rivers to swell and submerge several districts and cities in the western part of the province. In addition, dozens of thousands of locals have been evacuated due to the natural disaster.

Indonesia is currently in its wet season which spans from November to March every year. During this period, the Southeast Asia country experienced frequent rainfall events and natural hazards associated with weather phenomena such as flooding and mudslides. According to a United Nations (UN) body, Indonesia has a relatively high vulnerability to climate risk, as well as to flooding and extreme heat.

Indonesia Flooding and Landslides

Flash floods, Landslides Kill at Least 26 People in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island: Over 70,000 Locals Evacuated
(Photo : Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash)

Heavy rainfall has caused widespread flooding and landslides in Sumatra Island, located in western Indonesia, since Thursday, March 7. The catastrophic disaster has resulted in mass casualties and damage, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its cited report from local authorities and media on Monday, March 11. The adverse weather has affected the following areas or regencies in West Sumatra Province:

  •  Pesisir Selatan
  •  Padang Pariaman
  •  Limapuluh Kota
  •  Agam
  •  Solok
  •  West Pasaman
  •  Pasaman

The weather event affected 37,265 houses, damaged 26 bridges, and flooded 25 schools and 13 roads. Furthermore, the torrential rain is not likely to end anytime soon as additional precipitation has been forecasted for most parts of Sumatra Island over the next 48 hours. The figures are based on reports by the Indonesian National board for Disaster Management (BNPB) and the media, according to OCHA.

Some of the deaths involve people that likely were trapped in houses buried by the mudslides, according to reports. Moreover, flash floods also swept away some houses and even damaged mosques and schools. Riverine flooding also impacted river banks and impacted mountainside villages in the Pesisir Selatan district. Amid power outages, blocked roads, and buried homes, relief efforts and search rescue missions are ongoing.

Also Read: Heavy Rain and Massive Flooding Affects over 20,000 Homes in Southern Thailand

Indonesia Natural Disasters

Indonesia, as mentioned earlier, is susceptible to flooding and other natural hazards during its wet season. In particular, heavy rainfall events lead to frequent floodwaters and landslides in the country, where millions of people live in mountain areas or near floodplains. Aside from torrential rain, flash floods, and mudslides, Indonesia also experiences powerful volcanic eruptions and earthquakes as it is located within the Pacific Ring of Fire.

In 2022, West Sumatra was struck by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake followed by more than 200 aftershocks, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people and injuries of hundreds. The intensity of the quake even led to the displacement of thousands of residents in the Indonesian province. In December 2023, Indonesia also experienced the eruption of the Merapi volcano in Sumatra, killing over 20 people.

Related Article: Uzbekistan: Massive Floods and Landslides due to Heavy Rain Kill Multiple People

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