67 missing, over 14,000 displaced in Indonesia flash floods, search and rescue operations underway

JAKARTA (XINHUA) – Search and rescue operations were still under way yesterday as flash floods and landslides hit Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, leaving 67 people missing and more than 14,000 others displaced, officials said.

After retrieving 36 bodies, the rescuers focussed their efforts in the villages of Sabbang, Baebunta, Pontaden, Meli, and Masamba city, the areas hardest hit in Luwu Utara district, an official in charge at the Provincial Search and Rescue Office Zaenal Asad said.

“The mud submerged the villages by up to two metres high. Most of the bodies were recovered from the mud. Logs were also found on roads and many other spots, slowing the rescuers’ efforts,” he told Xinhua via phone.

Heavy machinery equipment was deployed to the area to help 359 rescuers in the mission, Asad said.

Separately, Head of the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency Doni Monardo noted that 67 people remained missing and 51 others were injured. As many as 14,388 residents have been taking shelter in safer grounds, he said in a statement yesterday.

Monardo asked affected people to keep applying health protocols amid the natural disaster.

“As we are still in the situation of virus pandemic, the health protocols have to be imposed in Luwu Utara,” he said when visiting the disaster-hit areas in the district. Compensation would be provided to those whose houses are destroyed by the flooding.

The flash floods also hit a road, nine bridges, 13 religious buildings, nine school buildings, eight office buildings, two public facilities and a market place, according to the agency.