More bodies have been found in Indonesia after flash floods killed dozens of people and submerged homes


PADANG, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers recovered more bodies Monday after monsoon rains triggered flash floods on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, sending down streams of cold lava and mud, killing 41 people and leaving another 17 missing.

The heavy rains and a landslide of mud and cold lava from Mount Marapi caused a river to overflow its banks.

Shortly before midnight on Saturday, flooding swept through mountain villages in four districts of West Sumatra province. The floods swept away people and inundated nearly 200 homes and buildings, some of them severely damaged, said Abdul Muhari, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.

Cold lava, also called lahar, is a mixture of volcanic material and pebbles that flows down the slopes of a volcano when it rains.

Rescuers recovered more bodies on Monday, mostly from the hardest-hit villages in Agam and Tanah Datar districts, bringing the death toll to 41, said Ilham Wahab, head of the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency.

“Bad weather, damaged roads and driveways blocked by thick mud and debris hampered relief efforts,” Wahab said.

He said at least 19 people were injured in the flash floods and rescuers were searching for 17 missing villagers.

Flash floods on Saturday evening also caused major roads around the Anai Valley waterfalls area in Tanah Datar district to be blocked by mud and cut off access to other towns, Padang Panjang police chief Kartyana Putra said on Sunday.

Videos released by the National Search and Rescue Agency showed roads turning into murky brown rivers and villages covered in thick mud, rocks and uprooted trees.

Heavy rains often cause landslides and flash floods in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near floodplains.

The disaster came just two months after heavy rains in West Sumatra triggered flash floods and a landslide that left at least 26 people dead and 11 others missing.

A surprise eruption of Mount Marapi late last year killed 23 climbers.

Marapi is known for sudden eruptions that are difficult to predict because the source is shallow and close to the summit and its eruptions are not caused by deep magma movement that triggers tremors that register on seismic monitors, according to the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and geological disaster prevention.

Marapi has been active since an eruption in January 2024 that caused no casualties. It is one of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines that encircles the Pacific basin, the country is vulnerable to seismic unrest.


Niniek Karmini contributed to this report from Jakarta, Indonesia.