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