11 July 2024

JAKARTA (AFP) – Floods and landslides that battered Indonesia’s Sulawesi island have killed at least 70 people, the authorities said on Tuesday, as aerial footage underscored the scale of the disaster with whole villages wiped off the map.

Lashed by heavy rain, rivers swelled and burst their banks, inundating dozens of communities across 12 districts as well as parts of the provincial capital Makassar.

The bodies of 70 victims have been found, while six are still missing,  Syamsibar, head of South Sulawesi’s disaster mitigation agency, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

Drone footage showed landslides had buried Pattallikang village in hard-hit Gowa district, with only a few buildings – including a mosque – visible after an avalanche of mud and rock cascaded down a nearby hillside.

Nearly 9,500 people have been displaced by the extreme weather, and hundreds of houses, government buildings, schools and bridges have been damaged, the disaster mitigation agency said on Monday.

The authorities say flood waters are receding but a state of emergency will remain in place until Feb 6, while rescuers look for those still missing and help repair damaged infrastructure.

Landslides and floods are common in Indonesia, especially during the monsoon season between October and April, when rains lash the vast South-east Asian archipelago.