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Indonesia dam burst toll now 77

world Updated: Mar 29, 2009 00:04 IST
Indonesia dam burst toll now 77

Rescue workers in Indonesia searched on Saturday for more than 100 people still missing after a dam burst sending a torrent of water crashing into a Jakarta suburb, as the official death toll rose to 77.

Hundreds of buildings collapsed when a wall of water broke through the man-made earthen dam early Friday as residents slept in their beds.

“The impact of the Situ Gintung dam has killed 77 people and injured 179 people. A hundred people are still missing,” Health Ministry’s Crisis Centre head Rustam Pakaya said through a text message.

He said it was difficult to establish exactly how many people had been killed because some residents of the Cireundeu and Ciputat suburbs had the same name.

Pakaya said that the health ministry has distributed aid packages to the affected people.

Rescue workers continued to work through the day, scouring the mounds of mud and debris to search for missing people after what one local compared to the 2004 tsunami that killed 1,68,000 people in Indonesia.

“The rescue team is in full spirits to help their brothers and sisters,” coordinator Suyatno, who only uses one name, said. “There is a lot of debris but we will manage to search through it, despite the difficulty.

“We’ll continue to search until we are told to stop — if necessary we will work late into the night,” Suyatno said.

The Situ Gintung dam was built in 1933 when Indonesia was under Dutch colonial rule. Authorities blamed the disaster on high water pressure following an intense downpour.

One resident, Supeje Sugeng, however said the dam had burst because it had not been properly maintained.

“We’ll see if we should ask the government for compensation. Right now, we’re just focusing on finding the missing people,” he said.