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A minimum of 28 people killed and many missing in flash floods and cold lava flow in Indonesia

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Heavy rain triggered a flash flood and a cold lava flow from Mount Marapi, resulting in a disaster in West Sumatra, Indonesia. At least 28 people, including children, have been killed, and many others are missing. The Basarnas search and rescue agency revealed that the disaster occurred in the Agam and Tanah Datar districts in the West Sumatra province. The incident took place at about 10:30pm on Saturday after hours of heavy rainfall caused the flash flood and cold lava flow.

The cold lava, also known as lahar, carried volcanic materials like ash, sand, and pebbles down the slopes of Mount Marapi due to the rain. Abdul Malik, head of the provincial rescue agency, confirmed the death toll, including a three-year-old and an eight-year-old. Search efforts are ongoing in Agam district as four other people are still missing. Photos and videos on social media showed the aftermath with large rocks and thick mud covering the streets of West Sumatra. This disaster occurred just two months after another devastating flooding on the same island.

Authorities have deployed rescue teams and rubber boats to search for missing victims and transport people to shelters. Evacuation centers and emergency posts have been set up by the local government in multiple locations in the affected districts. Indonesia is prone to landslides and floods during the rainy season, with recent events in South Sulawesi claiming 15 lives. In March, West Sumatra experienced landslides and floods that resulted in at least 26 fatalities. Mount Marapi is the most active volcano in Sumatra, contributing to the devastation with cold lava from its eruption.

In December, Marapi erupted, sending an ash tower 3,000 meters into the sky, leading to the deaths of 24 climbers, mostly university students. Additionally, on the same Saturday evening, a separate incident on Java Island resulted in at least 11 fatalities and numerous injuries. A bus carrying over 60 high school students on a graduation trip and their teachers crashed. The continuous natural disasters in Indonesia highlight the vulnerability of the region to such calamities, emphasizing the importance of preparedness and mitigation measures.

As rescue efforts continue and the search for missing individuals persists, the impacted communities in West Sumatra are grappling with the aftermath of the flash floods and cold lava flow. The local government and rescue agencies are working tirelessly to provide support and assistance to those affected, including setting up temporary shelters and emergency posts. The recent disasters serve as a somber reminder of the environmental risks faced by Indonesia during the rainy season, with landslides, floods, and volcanic activity posing significant threats to the population.

The coordination of rescue operations and distribution of resources in the affected areas play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents. The tragedy has elicited an outpouring of support and solidarity from across the country as Indonesians come together to aid those in need. Mount Marapi’s volatile nature underscores the importance of monitoring and preparedness measures to mitigate the impact of future eruptions and volcanic activities. While the road to recovery may be long and challenging, the resilience of the Indonesian people shines through in times of adversity.

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