Search Continues For Four Lost in SE Aceh Flooding
The Jakarta Globe
A search and rescue team on Tuesday resumed efforts to locate four people who remained missing after being swept away by flash floods in the Leuser subdistrict of Southeast Aceh district last weekend.
“We have resumed combing the river’s shores to look for four flood victims who are still missing,” said Juanda, the head of the Southeast Aceh SAR office, in a phone interview with Antara.
The flash flood hit the slopes of Leuser mountain in the subdistrict of the same name on Friday. Two bodies were recovered while the whereabouts of the other four missing people remains unknown.
Juanda said that the search party now includes personnel from the armed forces, the National Police and other government organizations.
About 70 homes were damaged and roads were blocked at various locations when mudslides moved into the village of Naga Arise Liang Pangi in Leuser subdistrict at about 3 a.m. on Sunday.
Access to a number of villages, which had been cut off by floods or mud, has since been restored with the help of members of the armed forces, who have assisted in the construction of emergency bridges and helped with ongoing cleanup operations, Juanda said.
Hundreds of people from three of the villages hit by floods — Sepakat, Naga Timbul and Yang Pangi — have returned to their homes after camping out at a football stadium in Kutacane.
“Most have returned to their villages to clean up and repair their homes,” Juanda said.
In addition to the massive tsunami that hit Aceh in 2004, the province has experienced several damaging floods in recent years.
In February, heavy rain in the Pidie district caused flash floods that isolated eight villages.
Thirty-seven homes were destroyed or swept away in that disaster, while 287 sustained minor to severe damage, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
The provincial branch of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has blamed the severity of the flooding and landslides on illegal logging, which allows the topsoil in hilly areas to be washed away.
Walhi has been fighting to halt illegal logging.
T.M. Zulfikar, director of Walhi Aceh, said that if illegal logging is allowed to continue, “don’t be surprised to see even worse disasters unfold in the future.”