Flooding in southern Kalimantan has killed more than 12 people and displaced tens of thousands. Rescue workers are still searching for many of the missing and fear that they are buried under the mud 10 days after landslides swept through a village in West Java. Divers continue to search for casualties and important data in the wreck of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, which crashed in the Java Sea on January 9, with 62 people on board.
Meanwhile, two volcanoes on the more populous island of Java are spewing ash into the air, with hundreds of people evacuated from the slopes of Mount Merapi in recent weeks.
On Friday, 73 people were killed in the earthquake in Mamuju, north of the epicenter, while 11 others were killed in Majin, a city about 200 km south of Mamuju. Thousands of residents have fled their homes in search of safety, but many are still trapped under collapsing buildings, according to local search and rescue teams.
At least 253 people were seriously injured and 679 others were slightly injured, said Raditya Jati of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Council. The earthquake also caused blackouts and triggered three landslides along the main road linking Majin and Mamuju.
The earthquake has caused an additional headache for a country that is already gravely battling an outbreak of the Coronavirus. Indonesia has reported 907,929 cases of Covid-19 and nearly 26,000 related deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Indonesia’s disaster management agency chief Donny Monardo said on Sunday that rapid antigen test kits have been provided to evacuation centers to screen and track potential Covid-19 transmission among 19,435 people displaced by the earthquake.
“At a later time there will be a scanning process for the antigen, to ensure that the refugees are not exposed to Covid-19,” Doni said. He added that displacement centers were asked to separate vulnerable groups from youth to prevent the spread of the virus.
Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency has warned of the possibility of aftershocks, and urged those who live in mountainous areas to be aware of landslides. People living near the coast have also been warned to stay away from the shore in the event of a tsunami.
Meanwhile, rescue teams continued to free people trapped under collapsing buildings at multiple locations across Mamuju – including two hotels and a hospital. “I tell people that their family members are trapped under collapsed homes and are asking for our help,” Arianto Ardi, head of local disaster management, told CNN on Saturday.
“We still do not have details on the number of people who were buried under these destroyed buildings,” he added.
Along the so-called “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Ocean, Indonesia – a country of high tectonic activity – is regularly hit by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In 2018, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Palu, Sulawesi, killing thousands of people.
Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia, began to erupt again on January 4. Since then, 500 people living on or near its fertile slopes have been evacuated, according to Magelang District’s local disaster management.
On Monday, Merapi continued spewing lava as hot clouds and ash rose 1 km (0.6 mi) into the air, according to the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation. Six lava flows can be seen, and they have descended 600 meters down the southwest slope, the agency said.
Also on the island of Java, Indonesia’s tallest volcano, Mount Semero, began spewing lava, ash and smoke on Saturday.
Floods and landslides
Flooding caused by torrential rains in South Kalimantan province on Borneo island this week has killed at least 15 people and displaced more than 100,000 people.
Water as high as 1.5 meters (5 feet) submerged more than 20,000 homes in 10 districts in the province, according to Raditya of the Disaster Management Agency.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the flood-affected areas on Monday, as rescue teams distributed aid including food, tarpaulins and blankets to the needy.
Separately, at least six people were killed in floods and landslides in the city of Manado in North Sulawesi on Saturday.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency warned of the possibility of more rain, saying the area was in the middle of the rainy season, which will last until February.
Meanwhile, rescue workers continue to search for victims in mud and debris 10 days after a landslide caused by torrential rains and unstable soil conditions swept through the village of Jiehanguang in West Java province. On Monday, four bodies were pulled from the mud, raising the death toll to 33. Rescuers are searching for four people still missing, according to the West Java Search and Rescue Agency.
Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, often suffers from floods and landslides, especially during the rainy season from November to March. In December 2019 and January 2020, severe floods in Jakarta caused the worst rain ever, leaving vast swaths of the capital underwater and affecting more than 400,000 people.
Experts have expressed concern that such extreme weather could become a new norm due to the climate crisis.
Sriwijaya plane crashes
In another disaster that rocked the Southeast Asian country, divers continue their search for the wreck of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 as authorities continue their investigation into the cause of the crash.
On Friday, search teams found the voice recorder in the plane’s cockpit, but the memory module was not with the case, Soerjanto Tjahjono, chair of the National Transportation Safety Commission, told CNN.
Despite the loss of the crash memory module, Soerjanto said they believe they will still be able to recover the data.
Also on Friday, the commission successfully downloaded the information contained in the recovered flight data recorder, which was found by divers and a remotely operated underwater vehicle last week.
“There are 330 teachers and they are all in good condition. We are studying them right now,” Suerganto said.
The flight data recorder data results so far confirmed earlier reports that the two engines were still operating when the plane collided with water.
Efforts are continuing to find and identify the people who died on board the ship. On Sunday, divers recovered 10 bags of human remains, as well as pieces and debris from the plane itself.
Masrour Jamaluddin wrote from Jakarta, written by Helen Reagan from Hong Kong. Julia Hollingsworth and Yusef Raadi of CNN contributed to the report.