Indonesia: Cold Lava, Flash Floods Kill Over 40

Indonesia: Cold Lava, Flash Floods Kill Over 40
Image copyright: Ed Wray/Stringer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • On Saturday, torrential downpours caused flash flooding, mudslides, and cold lava flows from the slopes of Mt. Marapi in the West Sumatra region of Indonesia. The severe weather killed at least 43 people and left many unaccounted for.

  • According to Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency, villages were inundated with rising waters, mud, and debris from the cold lava flow, also called a "lahar" — mudflows containing volcanic rock from recent eruptions triggered by heavy rains.

The Spin

Narrative A

While Indonesia is increasingly disaster-prone, the government has acknowledged this risk and boldly sought to address it financially. Between 2014 and 2018, a robust 1.9% of the government spending was allocated to disaster response and recovery. While natural disasters are a fact of life in Indonesia, there are significant and innovative investments and risk reduction measures underway.

Narrative B

Urban flooding in Indonesia increases in frequency annually and results in the deaths of hundreds of people. Instead of investing in multi-hazard large-scale risk reduction projects, the national and subnational governments have unfortunately allowed politics to infiltrate systems that should be designed logically. Real change starts at the local level where officials must commit to strong policies that are built on community support.

Narrative C

Increasingly severe downpours, flooding, and landslides are directly connected to human-induced climate change. Indonesia is among the top countries in terms of climate risk, which is why it must wake up and execute its climate agendas — including setting a target to cut emissions — to save lives and billions of dollars in damage. Any disaster risk reduction strategy and the local, subnational, or national level must accelerate and expand to encompass severe climate stress.

Metaculus Prediction

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