JAKARTA: At least three people have died and nearly 32,000 displaced after torrential rains hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the country’s disaster relief agency said on Thursday.
People from areas submerged by floods continued to seek refuge in mosques and public buildings.
Downpours that started as the new year approached have inundated parts of the archipelago’s western island, especially Jambi and Aceh provinces.
While torrential rains annually cause flooding, rescuers said this season they had been heavier than normal. Video footage shared on social media by residents of the worst-hit North Aceh regency showed cars and houses submerged in muddy water, and people trying to reach shelter on makeshift rafts.
“This time the floods happened on a much bigger scale,” Ananda Justisiani, spokesperson for the emergency response group Aksi Cepat Tanggap, in Aceh, told Arab News. “They are so severe because the rivers are overflowing and there was higher rain intensity and so the water did not subside.”
She pointed out that flooding had also affected other regencies in the province, particularly Lhokseumawe, Aceh Tamiang, Southeast Aceh, and Central Aceh.
National Disaster Management Agency data showed on Thursday that more than 31,800 people had been displaced by the rising waters and confirmed three deaths, all of them children.
Aksi Cepat Tanggap officials said the death toll had increased to five and predicted it could rise further with some areas remaining cut off due to heavy rainfall.
“The floods have begun to recede in some areas, but most are still submerged,” Justisiani added.
In North Aceh, local authorities declared a state of emergency until Jan. 15.