Floods in Indonesia have left 60 people dead

Floods in Indonesia have left 60 people dead, after monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged districts around Jakarta and caused landslides. People were buried under the mud making it difficult for rescuers to search for survivors.

Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged a dozen districts in the greater Jakarta area.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said on Saturday most of the fatalities included those who had drowned or been electrocuted since rivers broke their banks early Wednesday after extreme torrential rains hit on New Year’s Eve. Three elderly people died of hypothermia.

Rescuers recovered more bodies as flash floods and mudslides destroyed several villages in Lebak, a district in neighbouring Banten province, Wibowo said. Rescuers were still searching for two villagers reportedly missing in the landslide, he said.

The number of fatalities was expected to increase, with rescuers and villagers also searching for at least three people believed to be buried in another landslide in Cigudeg village in Bogor district, said Ridwan, the village’s secretary, who goes by a single name.

Ridwan said bad weather, blackouts and mudslides were hampering rescue efforts. He said rescuers on Saturday managed to reach eight hamlets that had been isolated for days by cut-off roads and mudslides and rescued more than 1700 villagers in weak condition.

Four days after the region of 30 million people was struck by flash floods, waters have receded in many middle-class districts, but conditions remain grim in narrow riverside alleys where the city’s poor live.

Government data showed that some 92,200 people were still unable to return home and were crammed at damp emergency shelters, mostly in the hardest-hit area of Bekasi. The number was sharply reduced from 173,000 as the muddy waters which submerged much of the city up to two metres high were receded.

This is the worst flooding in the area since 2007, when 80 people were killed over 10 days.