Vol. 5 Num 571 Tue. January 03, 2006  
Front Page

Flash floods kill 31 in Indonesia

Flash floods triggered by monsoonal rains killed at least 31 people and swept away hundreds of houses in Indonesia's East Java, police said yesterday.

Local police commissioner Teduh Tedjo said 31 people had been found dead in Jember district, about 800km east of the capital, while around 700 people had sought refuge at government buildings and schools.

"Of 31 bodies, only 16 had been brought to hospital. The rest are still in the flooded areas because of transport problems," he said.

Television footage showed scores of people, some carrying babies in sarongs or leading oxen by hand, fleeing along muddy roads on foot, bicycle and motorcycle.

Over 300 police officers, assisted by rescue workers and soldiers, were continuing to scour the flooded area for more victims, Tedjo said.

More than 100 houses in Kemiri village in the district were swept away those belonging to plantation workers nearby were also submerged, he said.

Heavy rains have inundated the area since Saturday.

The state-run Antara news agency said hundreds of houses in four villages in Jember had been swept away by the floods after the Kaliputih river burst its banks.

"Many victims have not been found. Many of them may have been buried in the mud," local police chief Soejatmiarto was quoted as saying.

Severe flooding, much of it blamed on rampant deforestation and the development of natural water catchments areas, is not unusual during Indonesia's rainy season.

More than 200 people were killed in 2003 when flash floods tore through Bahorok, a popular riverside resort in North Sumatra, destroying more than 450 buildings. The tragedy was blamed largely on illegal logging.