Survivors say when the dam gave way in the middle of the night, water surged through their neighborhood outside Jakarta like a tsunami, demolishing hundreds of houses, tossing cars and uprooting trees. At least 58 people were killed and dozens remained missing Friday.
Days of torrential downpours had filled a large lake bordering the low-lying residential area southwest of the Indonesian capital to flooding point. A huge section of the Dutch colonial-era dike tore away at around 2:00 a.m.
More than 2 million cubic meters of water roared through the gaping hole, nearly emptying the lake's basin and inundating homes up to the rooftops. Bodies were dragged several kilometers in the muddy current.
"The water was so strong it was like a tsunami," said Cecep Rahman, 63, who lost his wife, son and 10-month-old granddaughter. "I couldn't do much for my family. I was swept away and battered by debris."
He was among hundreds gathered at the nearby Muhammadiyah University that was turned into an emergency center and makeshift morgue. Soldiers and police carried bodies and laid them on the floor of a mosque to be prepared for burial.