Flash floods and cold lava flow kill dozens in Indonesia

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material like ash, sand and pebbles carried down a volcano's slopes by rain. (Photo/AFP)

At least 34 people have died and 16 more were missing after floods on Sumatra island in western Indonesia, the spokesperson for the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency has said.

"Until now our data shows that 34 people died: 16 in Agam and 18 in Tanah Datar. At least 18 others are injured. We are also still searching for 16 other people," Ilham Wahab said on Sunday, referring to two districts in West Sumatra province.

The disaster hit Agam and Tanah Datar districts in West Sumatra province at around 1530 GMT on Saturday after hours of heavy rain, triggering a flash flood and a cold lava flow from Mount Marapi, according to Basarnas search and rescue agency.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is volcanic material like ash, sand and pebbles carried down a volcano's slopes by rain.

Nine bodies had been identified earlier, including those of a three-year-old and eight-year-old, he said.

"Today, we will continue the search in the two districts."

Prone to floods

Authorities dispatched a team of rescuers and rubber boats to look for the missing victims and to transport people to shelters.

The local government set up evacuation centres and emergency posts in several spots in the two districts.

Indonesia is prone to landslides and floods during the rainy season.

In March at least 26 people had been found dead after landslides and floods hit West Sumatra.

Saturday's floods in Agam and Tanah Datar also carried cold lava from Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Sumatra and one of nearly 130 active volcanoes in the Indonesian archipelago.

In December, Marapi erupted and spewed an ash tower 3,000 metres into the sky, taller than the volcano itself.

At least 24 climbers, most of them university students, died in the eruption.


Source: TRT