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Indonesian Dam Bursts

Updated On: Mar 30, 2009

A dam burst its banks after a huge wall of water broke through the decades-old man-made earthen dam near the Indonesian capital Jakarta the edge of Situ Gintung lake in Cireundeu on Friday 27 March 2009, drowning at least 58 people with dozens missing or injured in a torrent of muddy water that flooded up to 500 low-lying homes up to 6 metres as their occupants slept, giving them little chance to escape.

Houses and concrete buildings were easily flattened by the force of the water and many survivors are still in the suburbs of Cireundeu and Ciputat trapped on rooftops waiting to be rescued.

Thick mud is also obstructing rescue efforts while sharp objects like nails damage rubber rescue boats and make it difficult for these boats to navigate.

Meanwhile, a nearby university assembly hall was converted into a makeshift morgue where bodies of the dead lined up on the floor.

Besides heavy rains, the age of the barrier, construction of new homes near the dam also loosened up the earth, causing the dam to give way.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and top ministers ceased intense political campaigning for legislative elections to inspect the rescue operations in the disaster area and visit the victims.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari had outlined the initial plan to help those who are alive identify the dead and help prevent diseases from proliferating.

To prevent electric shocks, state power company PLN shut off electricity to the flood-hit area, where five of its power stations were submerged.

Sources:

Channelnewsasia, "At least 58 dead after dam bursts near Jakarta" in the Channelnewsasia website dated 27 March 2009  [downloaded on 27 March 2009], available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/418176/1/.ht...

The Associated Press, "Death toll in Indonesia's dam burst climbs to 69" dated 28 March 2009 in the International Herald Tribune website [downloaded on 28 March 2009], available at http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/03/28/asia/AS-Indonesia-Dam-Burst.ph...