Floods, landslides kill at least eight in Indonesia

An aerial view of the flood situation in Gowa, Sulawesi, on Jan 23, 2019.
An aerial view of the flood situation in Gowa, Sulawesi, on Jan 23, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - At least eight people have been killed and thousands forced to evacuate their homes after heavy rain triggered devastating flash floods and landslides in Indonesia, the authorities said on Wednesday (Jan 23).

Heavy rain and strong winds buffeted parts of Sulawesi island overnight, swelling rivers that burst their banks and inundated dozens of villages in nine southern districts, as well as parts of the provincial capital Makassar.

Five people were found dead in Jeneponto district, while three people were killed in Gowa, Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said.

At least four people are missing, but the authorities say data is still being collected across hard-hit areas.

"Extreme rain that started to fall on (Tuesday) in several areas of South Sulawesi caused the flooding," agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

Footage showed rivers overflowing across vast swathes of land, flooding rice fields and submerging cars.

The flooding has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes and destroyed two bridges.

"Boats and food assistance for evacuees is still needed," Dr Sutopo said.

"(Rescuers) are still searching for the missing."

Heavy rains and the extent of flooding has hampered search efforts, the authorities said.

Landslides and flooding are common in Indonesia, especially during the monsoon season between October and April, when rain lashes the vast tropical archipelago.

In October, flash floods and landslides killed at least 22 people in several districts across Sumatra island.