Flash flood and landslide kills at least 109 and displaces nearly 400,000 in Sumatra

Emergency workers struggled Wednesday to feed and shelter around 394,000 people displaced by flash floods and a landslide on Indonesia's northwestern Sumatra island that killed at least 109.

In Aceh province, the area worst hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami, survivors waded through shoulder-high water, stood on rooftops or paddled boats to dry land.

Food and medicine was being airlifted by helicopter to six northern and eastern districts of Sumatra island, where an estimated 1,400 homes were submerged over the weekend, said Aceh disaster task force official Suwarno Amin.

Thousands of victims headed for shelters on the road to the regional capital, Medan, many of them suffering from skin problems and fever caused by poor hygiene and dirty water, said Abul Hayat, a spokesman for the Red Cross.

At least 70 people were killed in flooding and twice as many were missing in Aceh, while 39 drowned in storm waters or were buried in a landslide in neighboring North Sumatra province, officials said.

Raging water, several meters (yards) deep in some areas, swept through villages in eastern and northern Aceh, washing away bridges and roads.

Edy Sofyan, a government spokesman in North Sumatra, said 28 bodies had been dug up after a landslide hit the Muara Sipongi district, while rescue workers said 11 died in flash floods. At least 14 more remained missing after the landslide.

Sofyan said heavy rain - which has forced 24,000 from their homes in the province - continued and warned of the possibility of more landslides in coming days. Nearly 370,000 people were displaced in Aceh province.

The natural disaster followed several days of torrential seasonal rain, the cause of dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands, where millions of people live in mountainous areas or in fertile flood plains.

The water had receded in some areas by Wednesday, leaving behind deep mud and severely damaged homes, but some remained stranded in surrounding hills, the AP says.

Aceh was the region worst hit by the 2004 Asian tsunami, but this week's flooding was in areas unaffected by that disaster.

In June, severe flooding and landslides killed more than 210 people on Sulawesi island.

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