Home Environment Death Toll Rises to 37 in Devastating Indonesia Lava Floods

Death Toll Rises to 37 in Devastating Indonesia Lava Floods

Death Toll Rises to 37 in Devastating Indonesia Lava Floods

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The toll of devastation from the weekend’s lava floods in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province continues to mount, with authorities reporting Monday that 37 people have been killed and 17 remain missing after powerful eruptions sent torrents of cold lava and mud crashing through villages.

Search and rescue teams comprising soldiers, police and disaster personnel resumed operations Monday to try to locate any survivors from the disaster, which was triggered by heavy rains that caused the Marapi and Singgalang volcanoes to disgorge their deadly flows of lava and debris late Saturday.

The floods swallowed entire villages in the regencies of Tanah Datar, Agam and Pariaman, as well as the town of Padang Panjang, leaving a wide swath of destruction in their wake. Aerial footage showed homes crushed by the viscous currents, with streets transformed into rivers of mud and rubble.

“The search is still ongoing for victims who may have been swept away,” said Fajar Sukma, head of the emergency unit for the provincial disaster agency, his voice heavy with fatigue after days of around-the-clock rescue efforts.

Authorities have set up an information center in the hard-hit Tanah Datar regency to try to account for the missing and provide valid information amid the chaos. The official death toll rose throughout the day Monday as more bodies were recovered from the mud.

Among the staggering stories of loss to emerge was that of a family of six killed when the lava floods engulfed their home in the village of Lubu Kubu. A married couple, their two children and the husband’s parents all perished, according to relatives.

The twin volcano eruptions that triggered the catastrophe over the weekend were particularly devastating because of the residual cooling lava that had coated the mountain slopes before being dislodged by the heavy rains. The fast-moving flows overwhelmed communities with little chance for evacuation.

As rescue teams continued their grim duties on Monday, attention also turned to the thousands left homeless by the floods who face an uncertain future rebuilding their lives from the ruins.