Death toll from flooding in Asia tops 100; tens of thousands evacuated

By Laode Mursidin, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Death toll from Asian floods tops 100

TELUK WONDAMA, Indonesia — Helicopters dropped food to isolated villages and security forces helped search for survivors as the number of people killed by floods and landslides across Asia climbed Wednesday to more than 100.

Three-quarters of the deaths were in eastern Indonesia, where days of torrential downpours caused tons of mud and debris to crash into hillside villages. Twenty-six fatalities were reported in Vietnam.

On the nearby Chinese island of Hainan, 64,000 people had to be evacuated.

Hundreds of homes were damaged when a river burst its banks in the hardest-hit Indonesian village of Wasior, sweeping away residents in a fast-moving wall of sludge, rocks and heavy logs and leaving thigh-high water in its wake.

“Many people didn’t have time to save themselves,” said one woman, Ira Wanoni, as she waded through the rubble.

With roads and bridges across West Papua province submerged or completely destroyed, it took days for help to arrive.

It wasn’t until a navy ship arrived Wednesday, carrying soldiers and police — together with tents, sleeping mats, instant noodles, clean water and medical supplies — that the extent of the damage became clear.

Dortheis Sawaki, heading local relief operations, said 75 bodies had been pulled from the mud and the wreckage of crumpled homes, but dozens more were still missing.

Another 90 people were hospitalized, many with broken bones. Some had to be evacuated by helicopter and, as hospitals in the district of Manokwari became overwhelmed, others were taken by ship to neighboring provinces.

“There are just too many injuries,” said Sawaki, adding that some medical facilities had been hit by power outages and downed phone lines. “We can’t handle it alone.”

In Vietnam, 11 bodies were recovered in the worst-hit province of Quang Binh, where authorities were also searching for five sailors from a sunken barge, disaster official Nguyen Ngoc Giai said.

At least seven other bodies were found in Ha Tinh province, five in Nghe An and three in Quang Tri, officials there reported, as floodwaters slowly started to recede.

On China’s nearby island province of Hainan, meanwhile, seven straight days of heavy rains left two people missing and forced 64,000 to evacuate, said an official in the provincial flood control office who gave only his surname, Wu.

Seasonal rain across Asia causes floods and landslides every year, killing hundreds of people across the region.

Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Irwan Firdaus in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tran Van Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.

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