Hardship: Residents whose houses were badly damaged by flooding on Sunday wash their cooking utensils in the river running through their neighborhood in Manado, North Sulawesi, on Monday. Floods and landslides affecting much of Manado claimed at least 15 lives, officials said. Antara/Fiqman Sunandar
It was a horrific sight for many people in the hilly areas of Manado, North Sulawesi, as residents and rescuers recovered muddy corpses from the floods and landslides that were brought on by heavy rains that hit the area since Saturday. Flooding also submerged thousands of houses, sending thousands of residents fleeing for safer ground.
The North Sulawesi Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) reported that as of Monday morning, the death toll stood at 17. “As of Monday at 8 a.m. local time, 17 people have died. Eight were from Manado, six were from Minahasa, while the remaining three were from Sitaro. The number of residents evacuated stands at 3,832,” said North Sulawesi BPBD head Hoyke Makarawung as quoted by tribunnews.co.id.
Floods have inundated areas across Manado, including Aario Utara, Bailang, Bunaken, Karame, Komo Luar, Mahawu, Paal II, Tanjung Batu and Tikala Ares; while the areas of Karame, Kombos, Paal II, Singkil, Tingkulu and Winangun Atas were affected by landslides.
Authorities struggled to get tractors and bulldozers over washed-out roads hours after torrential rain brought down a cascaded of mud and rocks, as reported by the Associated Press. Hundreds of police, soldiers and residents were digging through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes.
Residents in Tingkulu hamlet said they were busy cleaning out mounds of soil from a previous landslide when suddenly mud and rocks crashed down the hill hours later, said neighborhood leader Lucky Sumakud.
“It was horrible [...] we were immediately fleeing, but some failed and [were] buried,” he said, adding that a mother and her two children were found dead, cuddled together.
Witnesses said floodwaters were a meter high in places. Residents scrambled to save their most valuable possessions, from television sets to motorbikes. Others carried the elderly through the water or sat on rooftops, waiting for the floods to subside.
Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, the world’s fourth most-populous nation. Millions of people live in mountainous regions and near fertile flood plains.
Flooding hit areas of Riau Islands and forced around 21,000 villagers to flee from their homes as the Batang Buluh and Rokan Rivers in Rokan Hulu regency began to overflow. On Monday, at least 3,452 people had been evacuated to safer ground.
“They are some of the 21,000 people affected by the major flooding, which was sparked by the Batang Buluh and Rokan Rivers [bursting their banks],” the head of the Rokan Hulu BPBD, Aceng Herdiana, said on Sunday night.
“In Kepenuhan Hulu district, the number of people affected reached 2,317, while in Kepenuhan Barat district, the number of displaced people has reached 1,450,” Aceng said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Houses belonging to some 1,229 families in Rambah district had been inundated and in Bonai Darussalam district, floodwaters breached the homes of 1,355 families, he said.
“The total number of flood victims in the inundated districts is 5,033 families, comprising 21,000 people, 3,452 of whom have been evacuated,” added Aceng.
Rizal Harahap contributed to the story from Pekanbaru.