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38 killed, several missing in Indonesia floods


Jakarta : At least 38 people were killed and several went missing when flash floods swept away homes in an isolated district in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province Tuesday, the health ministry said.

Floodwaters submerged homes in Mandailing Natal district before dawn following heavy rains, Eddy Sofyan, a provincial government spokesman, said by telephone from the North Sumatran capital Medan.

Road connections to the area were severed after a bridge collapsed and poor weather made sea travel too dangerous, Sofyan said.

“It’s hard to imagine the situation there,” Sofyan said. “Our rescue officers haven’t been able to reach the area.”

It takes 20 hours by road to travel to the district’s main town from Medan, he said.

Local officials reported timber from a nearby forest was swept away, the spokesman said.

“It’s not clear if trees had been uprooted or these were logs swept away from a forest concession area,” he said.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the ministry’s crisis centre, said earlier that more than 2,000 people were displaced and 25 others were missing.