Quantcast

At Least 27 Dead as Landslides Strike Indonesia, Including Village School

Climate
The aftermath of flooding and landslides in North Sumatra in Indonesia. AGUS SALIM / AFP / Getty Images

Another tragedy struck Indonesia Friday when heavy rains triggered flash flooding and mudslides that killed at least 27 in Sumatra, ABC reported.


The most devastating casualties occurred when mudslides inundated an Islamic school in Muara Saladi village, sweeping up 29 children. Villagers managed to rescue 17 children and some teachers, but 11 bodies were discovered in the rubble hours after the incident and another was discovered Saturday.

"The victims were buried in a torrent of mud and wall debris," National Disaster spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said, as ABC reported.

The disaster comes two weeks after an earthquake and tsunami wreaked havoc on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The death toll from the quake has since surpassed 2,000 as search and rescue efforts came to an official end this week, AccuWeather reported Sunday.

On Sumatra, meanwhile, the flooding and mudslides damaged more than 500 homes and destroyed three suspension bridges, ABC reported. Hundreds of people have fled their homes in the mountains out of fear that more landslides might follow.

In addition to the tragedy at the school, two people were found dead on Saturday when their vehicles were carried away by flood waters, four died in landslides in Sibolga, in North Sumatra and at least four more died in flash floods in West Sumatra.

Both North and West Sumatra have since declared an emergency relief period.

"Evacuation as well as search and rescue operations are underway," Nugroho said, "But the affected villages are in the mountains and access is difficult, due to damaged roads."

Seasonal downpours cause flooding and landslides each year in Indonesia, The Associated Press reported.

However, as early as 2007, flooding caused by more intense rainfall in the country has been linked to climate change.

"It's a natural phenomenon affected by climate change. It's been made worse by negligent behaviour," deputy environment minister Masnellyarty Hilman told Reuters after floods killed 50 in the country's capital of Jakarta in 2007.

Flooding in Indonesia has also been linked to deforestation. The country has already lost 72 percent of its forests, according to Greenpeace. That's bad for wildlife, for halting climate change and for lessening the risk of floods and related disasters.

"Forests play an important role in reducing these disasters because they can increase water infiltration," Bruno Locatelli, leader for climate change adaptation at the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia, told IRIN. "That means when there's heavy rainfall, forest soil can absorb water underground and disburse it to streams. This is also very important to prevent drought during the dry season."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed new restrictions on oil exploration in his state yesterday by putting a moratorium on hundreds hydraulic fracturing permits until the projects are reviewed by independent scientists, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
The endangered Houston toad. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

While the planet continues to heat up, almost every single one of the 459 species listed as endangered in the U.S. will struggle as the climate crisis intensifies, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
"This singular scientific achievement was accomplished at Heliogen's commercial facility in Lancaster, California." Heliogen

A startup backed by Bill Gates unveiled a breakthrough solar technology Tuesday that could free heavy industry from fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that can help with chronic fatigue and stress-related burnout. Tero Laakso / Flickr

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

While everyone has specific life stressors, factors related to job pressure, money, health, and relationships tend to be the most common.

Stress can be acute or chronic and lead to fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness, and irritability or anger.

Read More Show Less
A video shows a woman rescuing a koala from Australia's wildfires. VOA News / YouTube screenshot

More than 350 koalas may have died in the wildfires raging near the Australian town of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, but one got a chance at survival after a woman risked her life to carry him to safety.

Read More Show Less