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Sat. May 25th, 2024

The number of people killed by flash floods and cold lava have flow from a volcano in western Indonesia over the weekend has risen to 41 with 17 more missing, a local disaster agency official told AFP Monday.

Hours of heavy rain caused large volcanic rocks to roll down one of Indonesia’s most active volcanos into two districts on Sumatra island Saturday evening, while flooding inundated roads, homes and mosques.

“Data as of last night, we recorded 37 dead victims… But from this morning it has grown again, the figure reached 41 (dead),” Ilham Wahab, West Sumatra disaster mitigation agency official, told AFP.

Rescuers were searching for 17 still missing, three in Agam district and 14 in Tanah Datar, both the worst-hit areas of the flood and home to hundreds of thousands of people, he said.

Abdul Malik, head of the search and rescue agency in provincial capital Pandang, told reporters Sunday that the bodies retrieved included two children — a three-year-old and an eight-year-old.

Ilham encouraged “people to evacuate to relatives’ places, which are safer” than tent shelters in heavy rains.

“We are focused on first, searching and rescuing the victims, second, protecting the evacuees, protecting the vulnerable people,” he said.

West Sumatra Governor Mahyeldi Ansharullah told reporters on Monday that around 130 people had evacuated to an elementary school in Agam, while more than 2,000 people were evacuated to several places in Tanah Datar.

Roads in the districts were turned into rivers, with mosques and houses damaged. 

Heavy rains inundated neighbourhoods with muddy flood waters and swept vehicles into a nearby river, while volcanic ash and large rocks rumbled down Mount Marapi.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material such as ash, sand and pebbles carried down a volcano’s slopes by rain.

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