Indonesian rescuers have found new bodies on the island of Sumatra, after significant flooding and cold lava flows caused by torrential rains.

According to a report from the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), the toll established on Tuesday May 14 was fifty dead and twenty-seven missing. The heavy floods also injured thirty-seven people and led to the evacuation of 3,396 people, agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari reported in a statement. In addition, 71 homes were swept away and 125 others suffered damage, according to a report Monday from the BNPB.

Roads were transformed into muddy rivers, flooding homes and religious buildings, and sweeping vehicles into nearby swollen rivers, after heavy rains lashed four districts of the state for several hours on Saturday evening. west of the Indonesian island.

Suharyanto, the head of BNPB – he only goes by one name as is often the case in Indonesia – declared that the assessment was only provisional. “The count will continue to evolve,” he said, urging action “as quickly as possible” to “help find [the victims] who are still missing.”

Stating that rescuers had to act quickly to save lives, the official requested, in the same press release, that heavy equipment be deployed very quickly to contribute to the search efforts. Aid is being delivered by air and land using emergency bridges, after some roads have been cut, he said.

3,000 meter ash tower

Of Sumatra’s four districts affected by bad weather, Agam and Tanah Datar were hardest hit by flash floods and cold lava flows from Mount Marapi, the island’s most active volcano. Cold lava is magma formed by the various materials that make up the walls of a volcano: ash, sand and rocks. Under the effect of rain, these can mix and flow along the crater.

In Agam district, whose population exceeds 500,000 people, dozens of houses and public buildings suffered damage, according to the local disaster management agency. In Tanah Datar, where around 370,000 inhabitants reside, 84 homes, sixteen bridges and two mosques were damaged, as well as twenty hectares of rice fields, according to the count carried out on Sunday by the BNPB.

Indonesia is prone to landslides and flooding during the rainy season. By 2022, around 24,000 people were evacuated and two children killed in floods on the island of Sumatra, with conservationists blaming deforestation caused by logging for worsening the disaster.

Mount Marapi erupted in December 2023, spewing a tower of ash that reached 3,000 meters by then. At least twenty-four hikers died, most of them students.