South Sulawesi flood kills at least 38 people, dozens reportedly missing

Severe flooding that hit North Luwu regency, South Sulawesi, last week claimed at least 38 lives, while dozens more remain missing, authorities reported on Monday.

“As of Monday, the joint rescue team has recorded a total of 38 casualties,” Makassar National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) spokesperson Rizal said as quoted by

On Sunday, the joint team found two victims in Pombakka village, West Malangke district.

“One was a female, estimated to be aged 23, and another victim, a male, was found at the Masamba River, Bone Tua subdistrict,” he said.

Rizal explained that the two bodies, which were taken to Hikmah Masamba Hospital, had not yet been identified.

According to a report by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency on Sunday, 40 people were reportedly missing. The disaster also injured 58 people and caused 14,483 from Sabbang, Baebunta and Masamba districts to flee from their homes.

“The search was continued this morning around Pombakka village, the location where the two victims were found last time. We will also continue the search around the river banks and around Salu Tuara Bridge, which is full of wood [debris],” Rizal added.

The severe flooding was caused by heavy rainfall that began Sunday last week, causing three rivers – the Masamba, Rongkong and Mely – to overflow. Hundreds of houses and public facilities were buried under 3 to 5 meters of mud. Access to Masamba and Radda villages in Baebunta district was also blocked off by 2-meter-deep mud.

“The flow of the river in North Luwu is quite stable under daily conditions. However, based on further analysis, the inclined upstream slope is not supported by stable soil aggregate,” South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah said.

He added that the rain intensity over three days was quite high, with 100 to 200 millimeters of rain falling daily.

“It is a lesson for all of us. First, we need to normalize the rivers. Second, we need to think of the safety of people living near the river banks. Third, [human] activities around the upstream must be evaluated further.” (trn)