Nine Dead After Floods and Landslide in Indonesia

Heavy rains and floods caused a landslide that killed 9 people, including four children, in Indonesia on Saturday 30 November 2013.

The disaster occurred in Brastagi district, Karo Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia, an area still affected by the Mount Sinabung volcanic eruptions. The victims were in their houses, all of which were located on steep hill sides, some near river banks. Local authorities say that there were two landslides in separate locations, although both in Brastagi. The second landlslide came around one and a half hours after the first. Rescue teams struggled to find all of the bodies – some of whom had been swept away by raging flood waters – although it is thought that there are no further victims and no-one has been reported as missing.

Environmentalists believe deforestation in this area is responsible for the floods such as the one in Brastagi yesterday. Fewer trees result in more run-off after any prolonged heavy rainfall, which in mountainous areas such as Karo regency, can be disastrous.

Hilly and mountainous areas that have endured rapid deforestation regularly suffer severe flooding. One simply has to look at Uttarakhand in India to find the most obvious example. Deforestation in Karo Regency has been a contentious issue for some time, such as the illegal destruction of 1,060 hectares of a protected forest in 2001.

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Sources: The Jakarta Post