Indonesia dam break toll reaches 77


Jakarta : The toll from the dam break near Jakarta Friday climbed to 77 Saturday as rescuers searched for more than 100 people still missing, Indonesia’s disaster relief agency and police said.

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The National Disaster Management Agency said more than 50 people were also injured after the Situ Gintung dam in the Tangerang district, just south of the capital, collapsed early Friday, sending water crashing into a crowded residential area.

The agency put the number of missing people at 102.

“The number of victims is likely to rise as many families have reported missing relatives,” the agency said in a statement. More than 1,500 people have been displaced, it said.

The flood inundated hundreds of homes, sweeping away many of them, as residents were sleeping. Some survivors likened the disaster to a tsunami.

Edi Waluyo, an officer at the police station in the Ciputat area, said soldiers, police and volunteers took part in the search involving mechanical excavators and bulldozers.

“Our effort is still focused on searching for the missing,” he said.

Edi said there had been a steady stream of aid supplies such as food, clothes and medicine provided for the survivors, many of whom are staying at local universities.

The area is home to several universities and colleges.

There have been individual appeals for aid on social-networking websites, such as Facebook.

Residents said hours of heavy rain Thursday might have caused the 15-metre-high dam to break.

Television footage taken from a helicopter showed a gaping hole and widespread devastation in the area near the dam.

The dam was built in 1933 as an artificial lake when Indonesia was under Dutch rule and it holds 2 million cubic metres of water.

A leading Indonesian environmental group, Walhi, told DPA Friday that there was another breach at the dam in November although it did not cause damage.

“It should have served as a warning that the dam was vulnerable,” said the director of the Jakarta branch of Walhi, Slamet Daryoni.

“Authorities should have devised an early warning system for residents,” he said. “This is the fruit of negligence.”