JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A joint search and rescue team reported on Saturday (Feb 22) that eight students had died during a flash flood that swept away a group of scouts trekking on the banks of the Sembor River in Donokerto village in Sleman, Yogyakarta.
"Rescue team personnel have found eight bodies and are still looking for two more that are still missing," said Yogyakarta Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) head Lalu Wahyu Effendi on Saturday at noon.
The dead and missing students are all girls aged 12 to 15 years old. Meanwhile, 23 students were injured during the incident.
Wahyu said the rescue operation was under way, with 853 personnel deployed to find the missing students. The operation had continued at 7am on Saturday.
“The focus of the search today is from the location of the incident (in Donokerto village) to (Pondok Gajah Homestay in Sleman), with a total area of operation of 25.19 kilometres. The personnel are divided into four teams, dispatched to separate locations,” as written on the agency’s official Twitter account, @Pusdalops_diy.
Several rescuers were also looking at a weir located near the incident. A diver searched for victims at the bottom of the river, as observed by The Jakarta Post.
The victims were among 257 seventh and eighth graders of Turi 1 junior high school taking part in scouting activities on Friday. The student participants went river trekking despite the weather conditions.
Tarnoto, the head of Dukuh hamlet in the village, said hamlet residents had remined the scout group to cancel the river trekking on Friday because drizzling had started at the time.
“The sky was full of dark clouds above the river’s upstream area. The residents were worried that it would rain in the upstream and cause a flash flood,” Tarnoto said.
He went on to say that Sempor River had for years been used for trekking and was known for its cleanliness.