Indonesia: Almost every regency, city prone to disaster -- Agency

Agus Maryono, The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 15;

Almost everywhere in Central Java is categorized as prone to natural disasters, especially floods, windstorms and landslides, an official has warned.

The head of the provincial disaster mitigation agency (BPBD), Gembong Purwanto said on Monday that of 35 regencies and cities in Central Java, only Salatiga city was considered to be safe from natural disasters.

Gembong said that of the 34 remaining regencies and cities, four were prone to tsunamis, two were prone to volcanic eruptions and the rest were prone to floods, landslides, noxious gas and windstorms.

“Entering this rainy season, a number of regencies have reported natural disasters including the latest windstorms in Banyumas, Magelang, Temanggung, Sragen, Sukoharjo, Pemalang, Kudus, Purbalingga and Cilacap,” he said.

Landslides had also been reported in Banjarnegara, Pekalongan and Banyumas, he added.

The landslide in Banyumas left one person dead, in Pekalongan two people were injured and in Banyumas thousands had to flee their homes.

A landslide in Banjarnegara in December 2014, left 108 residents dead in Jemblung village, Karangkobar district. The bodies of five victims were never found.

In 2006, a landslide in Sijeruk village in the regency killed more than 200 residents.

Gembong said that natural disasters also prevailed in urban areas of high population growth, which in turn affected the environment as a result of the pressure caused by development and human activities.

Many urban people were forced to build houses on hillsides because of a lack of land. Many others chose to build on hillsides out of a desire to be closer to nature, whatever the reason this often led to natural disasters, Gembong said.

“To help reduce potential fatalities due to natural disasters we are establishing strong city and regency posts that will be prepared around-the-clock and know what to do in the event of a natural disasters,” he said.

In March this year, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) revealed that 40.9 million people, around 17.2 percent of the population, lived in landslide-prone areas.

BNPB data and information center head Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Monday that disaster mitigation efforts for landslides were still minimal but, during the rainy season, people living in susceptible areas faced a medium-to-high risk of landslides.

Meanwhile, windstorms in Banyumas brought down dozens of trees and electricity poles on Sunday night.

“The wind was very strong. The electricity pole in front of my house collapsed last night, causing a blackout for the whole night. Fortunately there were no fatalities,” Agus Nurhadi of Karanglewas subdistrict, Banyumas, said.

He said he had been forced to take his children to his office in Purwokerto to enable them to study for the term exams they had to sit the following morning in their respective schools.

The windstorm in Banyumas was also reported to have caused damage to several houses as a result of falling trees.

Beware imminent floods, landslides, warns BNPB 1 Dec 15;

People who live near rivers or in hilly areas should be on the alert for landslides and floods during the expected peak of the rainy season in December and January, an official warned on Tuesday.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said floods and landslides were likely to occur in December and January, when rainfall typically intensifies.

According to Sutopo, the regions most vulnerable to flooding include Sumatra’s east and Java’s north coast, the entire coastline of Kalimantan and river valleys and basins.

"As depicted in Indonesia’s flood-threat maps, around 315 regents and municipalities are vulnerable to floods, encompassing a total of 63.7 million inhabitants," he said as quoted by the Cabinet Secretariat website

According to the maps, meanwhile, areas susceptible to landslides include 274 regencies and municipalities in mountainous or hilly areas, with a total population of 40.9 million people.

The BNPB urged people to be vigilant for disasters .Natural landslide warning signs, Sutopo said, included muddy water in wells, cracked soil and land tremors.

He warned people to flee if rocks began to tumble from hillsides, if water burst in jets from ground fissures, if trees were seen floating in rivers or if waterways dried, even after rain.

To prevent secondary flood-related accidents, Sutopo also called on homeowners to ensure their houses were safe, explaining that if water began to enter, the power should be turned off, hazardous liquids should be stored safely to ensure they did not mix with the water and plans should be made for alternative shelter.

The BNPB has allocated Rp 150 billion in anticipation of floods and landslides over the next couple of months.

The agency’s data show that floods in Jakarta last year caused Rp 5 trillion worth of losses, while floods and landslides in 16 regents and municipalities in Central Java cost Rp 2.01 trillion and flash floods in North Sulawesi cost Rp 1.4 trillion. (rin)

Floods swamp houses, roads, schools, farmland in Sumatra
Apriadi Gunawan and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 15;

Thousands of homes and public facilities, including roads and schools, as well as farmland, were engulfed by floods triggered by torrential rain that fell from morning until noon on Monday in North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau and Aceh.

The entire city of Medan was virtually engulfed by floods, but the worst-hit areas were Labuhan, Marelan, Deli, Percut Sei Tuan, Tembung and Polonia districts, where floodwater reached 60 cm.

In Labuhan, hundreds of residents were forced to take shelter after their homes were swamped by floods.

Two elementary schools in Labuhan reportedly had to be closed after being flooded by up to 60 cm of water. Labuhan resident Jufri Ardiansyah said the two schools were often hit by flooding, adding that local people had asked the authorities to raise the ground at the schools, but to no avail.

“We keep reporting the problem but they never respond. So when the rains come, the schools are immediately flooded. We feel sorry for the children who cannot attend school,” Jufri said, blaming poor drainage for the flooding.

Kualanamu Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) staff member Nancy Tambunan said rain would continue to fall along the eastern coast of Sumatra and urban areas, especially in the evening and early hours of the morning. Nancy added that the intensity of the rain would be very high over the next couple of days.

“We urge residents to be aware of the rain from the evening until dawn, because rainfall will be higher then than in the morning,” she told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

The recent rain over the east coast of the island and Medan, Nancy explained, was due to low wind pressure in the Indian Ocean, or waters off West Aceh.

Meanwhile, torrential rain that drenched Solok regency, West Sumatra, on Sunday left 85 houses in three villages submerged and destroyed hectares of farming land on Monday.

The West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD)’s emergency division head Pagar Negara said the agency had distributed food, biomass stoves and blankets to 395 people affected by the floods.

In Riau, hundreds of homes in Kuantan Singingi regency were engulfed by floods resulting from overflowing rivers following high rainfall in the province.

“Many local people have sought shelter since the rivers overflowed,” Logas Tanah Darat district chief Novrion said in Teluk Kuantan on Monday.

He added that homes located near rivers, such as in Rambahan village, Logas district, had been swamped by floodwater up to 1.5 meters.

“If heavy rain continues, the flood levels will be very high,” Novrion said.

He added that as well as hill erosion, the river’s capacity had been affected by construction along the river banks by a plantation company that operates in the area.

In Aceh, overflowing rivers also flooded a number of areas in Pidie regency following heavy rain.

Pidie BPBD head Apriadi said in Sigli on Sunday evening that several areas had been hit, including Tangse, Keumala, Mutiara Timur, Mila and Pidie districts.

“The districts are located within the Krueng Baro Raya River basin area. The overflowing river engulfed the surrounding areas,” said Apriadi.

Floods also hit areas around regency capital Sigli and a number of villages, including Blang Asan, Blok Sawah, Kramat Luar and Kramat Dalam.

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