Torrential rainstorms set off landslides and flooding in Indonesia today, the third anniversary of the Asian tsunami, killing as many as 81 people and forcing thousands to flee their homes. The disaster affected several districts on the main island of Java, where residents have been wading through neck-high water. "This is the first time in the last 25 years anything of this scale occurred here," a government official told Reuters.
The rescue effort continues, but water and mud have blocked roads and made some affected areas inaccessible. Landslides and flash floods are common in Indonesia, where seasonal wet weather can trigger catastrophe for the millions of citizens living near mountains and flood plains. Environmental advocates also claim that deforestation has loosened the soil and exacerbated the hazard.