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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

One dead, 11 missing after landslide and floods hit Indonesia’s Sumatra island

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Rescuers have recovered the body of a man buried under tons of mud and rocks after flash floods and a landslide crashed on to a hilly village on Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

Officials said on Sunday that 11 people are still missing.

Triggered by torrential rain, tons of mud, rocks and trees rolled down from a mountain late on Friday, reaching a river that burst its banks and tore through mountainside villages near the popular Lake Toba in North Sumatra province.

Rescuers used excavators, dogs and sometimes their bare hands to shift the rubble in the worst-hit village as they searched for the dead and missing, said Sariman Sitorus, spokesman for the local search and rescue agency.

They also deployed several divers equipped with sonar detection to detect possible victims swept into Lake Toba, he said.

He said that late on Saturday rescuers pulled out a mud-caked body on the lakeside, about 500 yards from the devastated Senior Bakara Hotel. The man was identified as a hotel employee.

The National Disaster Management Agency said the landslide and flash floods damaged at least 35 houses, a church, a school and a hotel in the village of Simangulampe, forcing about 55 families to flee to a temporary government shelter.

Seasonal rain from about October to March frequently causes flooding and landslides in Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

The 440 square mile (1,145 sq km) Lake Toba, formed out of an ancient super volcano, is a popular sightseeing destination on the island of Sumatra and one of 10 stunning natural attractions in Indonesia that the government aims to develop as magnets for international tourists.

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