Indonesia dam burst toll rises to 91

March 28, 2009 at 8:16 PM
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JAKARTA, March 28 (UPI) -- The death toll from a burst dam on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, has risen to 91 with dozens of people still missing, officials said Saturday.

Officials told Japan's Kyodo news agency more than 100 people still missing are feared dead.

''There is a possibility that the number of missing could still rise as many students living in rental rooms near the dam were believed to be swept away by the water,'' said Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for the National Disaster Coordinating Agency.

Rescue workers were searching for survivors and bodies after about 400 homes were destroyed by a wall of water in the suburb of Cirendeu early Friday, the BBC reported.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to bring help to the affected families and to rebuild Situ Gintung dam, which was constructed in 1933 by the Dutch colonial government to hold a man-made lake.

"We will design the new structure in a proper way so that it will not cause any further public concern," Yudhoyono said.

Witnesses told The New York Times the dam broke about 2 a.m., unleashing a torrent of water that tore through a low-lying valley, inundating flimsy houses and surprising residents in their sleep with waves of mud and water.

Experts told the BBC very little maintenance had been done of the earthen dam since it was built. The Jakarta Globe newspaper reported that Cirendeu residents had observed cracks in the dam last year.

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