29 Mar 2009

Death toll in Indonesian flood reaches 93

9:27 pm on 29 March 2009

The death toll from Friday's flash flooding disaster near Jakarta has climbed significantly, with 93 people now confirmed dead and 126 still missing.

Rescue workers have resumed searching for those who are still missing after about 400 homes were deluged in the Tangerang district early on Friday.

At the scene, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to help families reconstruct their homes and pledged to rebuild the dam.

Residents likened the onrush of water to the impact of a tsunami.

Torrents of water mixed with boulders and debris crashed through a 70m gash in the dam, sweeping away buildings.

"We will design the new structure in a proper way so that it will not cause any further public concern," said Mr Yudhoyono

Indonesian president

The deluge destroyed hastily-erected flimsy wooden houses as well as more solid concrete buildings.

Local police chief Ngisa Asngari said that hundreds of soldiers, police and volunteers were continuing to dig through piles of mud and debris, searching for survivors or bodies.

The Situ Gintung dam, which stood 16m high and held back a lake of two million cubic metres of water, was built out of dirt by Dutch colonialists in 1933.

Experts say that little maintenance had been carried out on the dam since then, and warned that many dams in Indonesia are in a similar state.