Rescuers pulled 10 bodies from mounds of mud Tuesday after flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rains in eastern Indonesia sent thousands fleeing for safety and left four others missing, a disaster official said.
The corpses were retrieved from five hamlets devastated by landslides and floods in Ambon, the capital of Maluku province, while more than 870 houses were flooded by an overflowing river, said Harmensyah, director of emergency relief at the Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Authorities struggled to get tractors and bulldozers over washed-out roads. Television footage showed hundreds of police, soldiers and residents digging through debris with their hands, shovels and hoes.
Harmensyah, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said two young children were among the dead, while 28 people were rushed to hospitals with injuries. About 4,300 people fled to temporary shelters.
Rescuers were still searching for four others reportedly missing and believed to be buried under tons of debris.
“Lack of equipment and bad weather hampered our rescue efforts for those who are still missing and feared dead,” said Harmensyah.
He said rivers bloated by days of rain burst their banks in Way Ela hamlet last Thursday, forcing people to flee their flooded homes. Witnesses said water levels were more than a yard (meter) high in places when mud and rocks suddenly cascaded down hills early Tuesday.
Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, home for 240 million people, many of whom live in mountainous regions and near fertile flood plains near rivers.
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