Several landslides hit the Batang Toru hydropower plant area in Marancar, the South Tapanuli District of North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Five fatalities have been reported, while eight others are still missing as of Monday, May 3, 2021.
Landslides occurred in the area due to heavy rainfall, according to the disaster agency BNPB.
Two buildings, a vehicle, and 13 people were buried in the rubble. Five of the victims have been found dead, while eight others remain missing.
Toto Mulyono, head of the Medan SAR Office, said 10 of the victims were from the same family. Three others are still unidentified.
As of Monday, search and rescue operations are ongoing.
The incident has also raised concerns over the safety of the hydropower plant site, which has been pointed out by conservationists for its potential harm to orangutan species. It is the only known habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli in Sumatra.
This was not the first time that the China-backed project was hit by disaster. In December 2020, a series of landslides hit the area, sweeping away a local who was operating an excavator to clean up an earlier landslide.
A database managed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources shows that the site is an area with a medium to high risk of landslides due to hilly terrain and poor drainage.
Pusdalops BNPB mencatat sebanyak tiga orang meninggal dunia akibat tanah longsor yang dipicu hujan dengan intensitas tinggi pada Kamis (29/4) pukul 18.00 WIB di Kecamatan Batang Toru, Kabupaten Tapanuli Selatan, Provinsi Sumatera Utara.— BNPB Indonesia (@BNPB_Indonesia) April 30, 2021
Selengkapnya: https://t.co/nzeQAvwCvn pic.twitter.com/a8WWU3MBHH
Begitu mendengar ada bencana longsor di PLTA Batang Toru di Desa Marancar Godang, Tapsel, saya ajak Forkopimda langsung gerak cepat menuju lokasi. Gak ada istilah menunggu lagi, bersama tim dari Forkopimda Sumut, saya langsung memimpin pencarian korban secara optimal dan terpadu. pic.twitter.com/sXbGVXPXCA— Edy Rahmayadi (@RahmayadiEdy) May 2, 2021
Featured image credit: BNPB