JAKARTA • The death toll from flash floods and landslides in Indonesia has risen to at least 35, an official said yesterday, as search crews scour devastated villages in the hope of finding survivors.
Dozens were also missing or injured following torrential rain and widespread flooding in Central Java, where thousands of homes have been swamped in water. Areas prone to landslides in the densely populated province have been the worst hit, with vehicles swept off roads and dozens of homes completely destroyed by fast-moving walls of mud, rock and water.
"The number of casualties from floods and landslides in Central Java is 35 people dead, 25 people missing and 14 injured," said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
The worst-hit area was Purworejo district on Java's south coast, where 19 people were killed, he said. In one incident in the district, nine people died as they tried to clear rubble from a blocked road. "Suddenly a huge landslide struck the cars and people on the street. Nine bodies were retrieved," Mr Sutopo said in a statement.
In Banjarnegara, where six people were killed in an avalanche of mud, residents were bracing themselves for more floods while emergency crews were attempting to clear roads of debris.
Meanwhile, in Purworejo, heavy lifting equipment was being used in the hunt for survivors but access to sites elsewhere was difficult, said Mr Sutopo.
Evacuation centres, equipped with temporary shelters and kitchens, have been erected near the disaster zones for those escaping the worst-hit areas. Mr Sutopo said late yesterday that much of the flooding had subsided but he warned people to stay on the alert as heavy rains could continue into the next day.
Landslides are not uncommon in Indonesia, a vast tropical archipelago prone to natural disasters and torrential downpours.