Indonesians Displaced by Weekend's Flood Find Relief; Death Toll Hits 109

Many of the 400,000 residents of northwestern Sumatra island displaced by torrential rains received relief on Wednesday for the first time since they were forced to flee their homes. The death total from last weekend's floods rose to at least 109.

More than 200 people remained missing, most in Aceh province, where raging water swept through eastern and northern villages, washing away bridges and roads. Survivors waded through shoulder-high water, stood on rooftops or paddled boats to dry land. At least 70 people were killed in Aceh.

In neighboring North Sumatra province, 28 people were buried in a rain-triggered landslide and 11 others died in flash floods, said Edy Sofyan, a local government spokesman.

Sofyan said heavy rain, which has forced more than 44,000 from their homes in Sumatra province, continued and warned of the possibility of more landslides in coming days. More than 365,000 people were displaced in Aceh province.

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

Food and medicine were being flown by helicopter to six districts, 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 diseases and fever caused by poor hygiene and dirty water, said Abul Hayat, a spokesman for the Red Cross.

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 an unknown number victims remained stranded in surrounding hills.