JAKARTA • A joint search and rescue team reported yesterday that eight students had died during a flash flood that swept away a group of scouts trekking on the banks of a river in Sleman, Yogyakarta.
“Rescue team personnel have found eight bodies and are still looking for two more that are still missing,” said Yogyakarta Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) head Lalu Wahyu Effendi yesterday.
The dead and missing students are all girls aged 12 to 15 years old.
Meanwhile, 23 students were injured during the incident.
Mr Wahyu said the rescue operation at the Sembor River was under way, with 853 personnel deployed to find the missing students.
“The focus of the search today is from the location of the incident (in Donokerto village) to (Pondok Gajah Homestay in Sleman), with a total area of operation of 25.19km. The personnel are divided into four teams, dispatched to separate locations,” said a post on the agency’s official Twitter account, @Pusdalops_diy.
Several rescuers were also looking at a weir located near the incident. A diver searched for victims at the bottom of the river, as observed by The Jakarta Post.
The victims were among 257 seventh and eighth graders of Turi 1 junior high school taking part in scouting activities on Friday.
The student participants went river trekking despite the weather conditions.
Mr Tarnoto, the head of Dukuh hamlet in the village, said hamlet residents had told the scout group to cancel the river trekking on Friday because a drizzle had started at the time.
“The sky was full of dark clouds above the river’s upstream area. The residents were worried that it would rain in the upstream and cause a flash flood,” Mr Tarnoto said. He said the river had for years been used for trekking and was known for its cleanliness.
JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK