More rains to lash Sumatra

Flood-hit Sumatra Island is bracing for more downpours and landslides.

    Flash floods swept away thousands of homes in Southeast Asia, mainly in Indonesia [AFP]

    Hardest hit is northern Sumatra, where thousands of houses were destroyed and roads and bridges washed away, complicating relief efforts. Stormy weather also capsized a ferry off the island's eastern coast, killing one and leaving dozens unaccounted for.


    Muhammad Ma'ruf, the Indonesia's home affairs minister, told reporters in the capital, Jakarta, on Friday that 71 people had died in Aceh province and 70 in North Sumatra province.


    Helicopters dropped food, tents and medicine to survivors in some of the more remote villages on Thursday and Friday, while volunteers in dinghies helped to distribute aid.


    “We're seeing people with skin disease, fever and colds,” said Jabad, an official in the area who goes by only one name.


    “They badly nee

    “They badly need medicine and clean drinking water”

    Jabad, an Indonesian official

    d medicine and clean drinking water.”


    In the neighbouring Malaysia, which is experiencing its most severe weather in a century, authorities found the body of a 14-year-old boy in a flood-swollen canal, bringing the toll there to 11.


    Seasonal downpours regularly cause landslides and flash floods in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, where millions of people live in mountainous areas or in flood plains.


    The Aceh disaster relief task force said that more than 13,000 homes across six districts were severely damaged or washed away, more than 1700 of them in the Aceh Tamiang district, where waters were several metres deep in some areas.


    Several thousand refugees have taken shelter in nearby hills, said Nasir Musa, district spokesman, adding that water was subsiding in some areas, making it possible for people to return to villages to clear away mud and debris.


    Aceh was the hardest hit province in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, losing an estimated 167,000 people; but the floods and landslides have affected inland areas that were untouched by that disaster.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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