Death toll in Indonesia's lava flood rises to 44

Jakarta (IANS) The death toll due to cold lava flood in Indonesia's West Sumatra province has mounted to 44, a senior official of a local disaster agency said on Monday.

Although many big stones and waste materials from the flooding hampered the search for the victims, rescuers discovered another seven bodies in the affected areas, said Fajar Sukma, head of the emergency unit of the disaster management and mitigation agency of West Sumatra province, Xinhua news agency reported.

"We have found several bodies, bringing the total death toll to 44. Big stones and the waste have hampered the searching, but we continue to look for the 15 people reported missing," he told Xinhua.

Some machinery equipment has successfully reached the flood-stricken areas, according to him.

The search operation would focus on Tanah Datar and Agam regencies, where the 15 missing were reported, he added.

Spokesman of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) Abdul Muhari said the natural disaster on Saturday had forced over 3,000 people to flee home and take shelter in both regencies, as the cold lava floods destroyed houses, buildings and other infrastructure facilities.

The government had conducted emergency relief efforts in responding to the disaster, while the head of the BNPB, Lieutenant General Suharyanto, would supervise the evacuation and distribution of aid to the affected residents, he said.

Earlier media reports put the death toll at 37.

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