|© REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad|
|A mother cries over the body of her baby in the flood-swept Sinjai District of Indonesia's eastern Sulawesi island.|
NEW YORK, USA, 22 June 2006 – More than 200 people have died in flash floods after three days of torrential rains swept through eight districts in South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.
A major rescue operation in the area is under way. The death toll has reached 210, with 71 missing, according to reports from Reuters.
Government officials visited the region yesterday to assess the damage and to organize the distribution of emergency food, clothing, blankets and other supplies. The office of the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Jakarta is in close contact with government authorities and non-governmental agencies, as well as the Indonesian Red Cross, to monitor the situation.
UNICEF personnel are working with the authorities in the Sinjai, Jeneponto and Bulukumba districts. A UNICEF health officer will visit affected areas tomorrow to help attend to victims' immediate needs and assess the potential for disease outbreaks. In addition, UNICEF will distribute hygiene kits, water purification tablets and jerry cans for water.
Two districts hit by landslides
The districts affected by flooding include Sinjai, Jeneponto, Bulukumba, Bantaeng, Luwu Utara, Bone, Gowa and Sidrap. Two districts, Gowa and Sidrap, were also hit by landslides. The worst affected area is Sinjai, according to the Provincial Coordinating Unit for the Management of Disaster.
The floods and landslides have damaged hundreds of houses, inundated rice fields and caused fishponds to overflow. Main roads and bridges are reportedly blocked, cutting off access to affected areas.
According to the Chief of the UNICEF Field Office in Makassar, Purwanta Iskandar, there have been no reports of children separated from their families as a result of flooding or landslides. "There are many families staying with extended families," he said, adding that there may be a need in coming days to establish a temporary camp for those who have lost their homes.