At least 15 people were killed and dozens feared missing after torrential rains and landslides battered one of Indonesia’s outermost islands, the country’s disaster officials have said.
Pictures provided by the national disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) on Monday March 6 showed mud and debris from the landslides had inundated houses near a cliff on the remote Serasan island while metals tore off roofs and fallen trees were visible.
The remoteness of the village where the landslide struck in the Natuna region of Riau province, complicated rescue efforts, according to officials.
“We’ve been updated that 50 people were missing, 15 dead people were evacuated,” Natuna Search and Rescue Agency’s head Abdul Rahman told AFP, revising an earlier toll.
Riau Islands Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson Junainah added that with the communication network in the affected area between Borneo island and peninsular Malaysia cut off, it was hard to get updated information
“The weather is unpredictable. The wind is strong and the waves are currently high,” said the official, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
A 60-person search and rescue team departed for the disaster-hit area, BNPB spokesperson Abdul Muhari said in a statement on Monday evening.
Muhari predicted that access to the island would be difficult.
“Normally it takes five hours by fast boat,” he said.
“Tomorrow, the national disaster mitigation agency will deploy a helicopter to speed up the logistics delivery process,” he told local television channel Kompas TV.
Indonesia is prone to landslides during the rainy season, aggravated in some places by deforestation, and prolonged torrential rain has caused flooding in different areas of the Asian nation.