Four Dead in Padang Landslide
Padang, West Sumatra. Search and rescue workers have recovered two bodies and are looking for another two buried beneath a landslide triggered by torrential rains in Padang on Wednesday, an official said on Thursday.
Noverman, an official with the municipal disaster mitigation agency, said four people were reported killed after part of a steep cliff in the Batu Busuak area of Padang collapsed onto six houses at its base.
“Of the four people buried in the landslide, the bodies of two have been found,” he said.
He identified the victims as a 6-year-old girl and a 45-year-old man. Those still missing are a 3-year-old girl and a 25-year-old woman.
“To prevent more casualties, we’ve ordered residents from that area to evacuate to safer ground,” Noverman said, adding that some were sheltering at mosques and schools, while others were staying with relatives or neighbors.
He said that in addition to Wednesday afternoon’s landslide, the heavy rains throughout the day also caused flash floods in the Tabing Banda Gadang, Ulu Gadut and Limau Manis areas of Padang.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said hundreds of homes in the three subdistricts were inundated.
“So far we haven’t had any reports of fatalities or injuries as a result of the floods, but hundreds of residents are seeking refuge on higher ground,” he said.
Rika Zufria, one of those affected by the flooding in the city’s north, said this was the second time in the space of as many months that the area had been hit by a flood. A flash flood on July 24 also forced residents to flee, although Rika said the extent of the flooding this time around was not as severe.
Ridwan, another resident, said the water inside his home was a meter deep.
“We’ll have to wait for it to recede significantly before we can return,” he said.
“For tonight, we’ll have to stay with neighbors or in a tent.”
He added that the electricity supply to the area had been cut off to prevent electrocutions.
Sutopo said floods were also reported in South Pesisir district, south of Padang, but confirmed reports of the scale of the disaster there were not yet available.
Several regions across the country have been hit by flooding in the past two months as unseasonal heavy rains set in.
In late August, two people were confirmed killed and hundreds forced to evacuated after flash floods hit Palu in Central Sulawesi. Two others were swept away in the floodwaters and are feared dead.
A week earlier, flash floods hit the slopes of Mount Leuser in Aceh, killing at least two people and damaging 70 homes.
Earlier in the month, 16 people were killed in a flood in Ambon, Maluku. Officials said 2,000 people in the city were displaced after torrential rains triggered heavy flooding and landslides.
Environmentalists have blamed the severity of the flooding and landslides on the rampant illegal logging taking place across the country, arguing that the practice allows the denuded topsoil in hilly areas to be washed away more easily.
T.M. Zulfikar, director of Walhi Aceh, warned last month that if illegal logging was allowed to continue, the scale of the flooding could get much worse.
“Don’t be surprised to see even worse disasters unfold in the future,” he said.