Thousands of homes swept away in Indonesia; Malaysia braces for new storms

Flooding in remote northwestern Indonesia has swept away thousands of houses and killed at least 122 people, officials said Thursday, as neighboring Malaysia braced for more torrential rain and wind.

Indonesian authorities deployed boats and helicopters to shift aid to survivors of flash floods and landslides that displaced more than 400,000 on Friday and Saturday.

Local officials were still evaluating the extent of damage because some of the hardest hit areas were in remote jungle or beyond washed out roads and bridges.

But the Aceh disaster relief task force said in a statement that more than 13,000 homes across six districts had been severely damaged or washed away entirely, 1,755 of them in the Aceh Tamiang district where waters were several meters (yards) deep in some areas.

Nearly 200 people were still missing in Aceh province.

In Malaysia, the Meteorological Department warned of a "monsoon surge" that could bring several hours of severe rain and winds of 60 kilometers an hour (37 miles per hour) to its southern states.

The death toll there rose to 10 from flooding in recent days that has caused more than US$20 million in damage, officials said.

The extreme weather the most severe in a century in southern Malaysia has displaced nearly 90,000 people in a two weeks.

Meanwhile, heavy rain continued to fall over the hardest hit districts in Aceh province on Sumatra, complicating relief efforts and adding to the misery of survivors, said local government spokesman Nadir Musa.

The relief efforts followed days of seasonal downpours, the cause of dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in the sprawling archipelagic nation where millions of people live in mountainous areas or in fertile flood plains, reports AP.

Helicopters dropped food, tents and medicines while volunteers in dinghies also distributed aid, said Musa.

Aceh was the hardest hit province in the 2004 tsunami, losing an estimated 167,000 people, but the floods and landslides have affected inland regions that were untouched by that disaster.

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