Indonesia: Heavy rain over Sumatra, Java, triggers landslides, floods

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 12 Dec 15;

Heavy rain over a number of regions has triggered landslides and flooding, cutting access and disrupting economic activities.

Landslides in a number of locations along a state road in Limapuluh Kota regency, West Sumatra, which connects to Riau province, paralyzed traffic on both sides of the road for six hours on Thursday evening.

The West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD) logistics and emergency affairs head, R. Pagar Negara, said the landslide had damaged several homes and three cars.

“The drivers of the three damaged cars were slightly injured,” Pagar told The Jakarta Post on Friday, adding that no serious casualties were reported.

Heavy downpours that began at 9 p.m. local time on Thursday and lasted for four hours triggered landslides in 11 locations along the trans-Sumatra highway in Manggilang village, Pangkalan Koto Baru district.

Consequently, traffic was backed up for two kilometers on both sides of the road.

Workers toiled until 3 a.m. on Friday to remove earth, rocks and fallen trees before the route was reopened.

Landslides also took place in a number of locations in South Solok regency, with one of them burying a major highway from Padang to Muaralabuh, South Solok. “We are still gathering field data,” said Pagar.

Meanwhile, torrential rain caused a river in South Pesisir regency to overflow on Friday evening.

A resident identified as Damra, 60, was reportedly missing after the incident.

In Central Java, the Cilacap Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) announced that landslides had again hit a number of areas in the regency.

“The landslides hit Dukuhtengah and Suekuet Hilir hamlets in Majingklak village, Wanareja district,” Cilacap BPBD acting head Tri Komara Sidhy said in Cilacap on Friday.

He added that the landslides took place on Thursday at around 5 p.m. following heavy downpours and strong winds.

In Riau, torrential rain from Thursday until early Friday caused the Batang Lubuh River to burst its banks. Hundreds of homes in the Rokan Hulu regency capital of Pasir Pangaraian were engulfed by floodwater.

The worst-hit area was Simpang Supra, on Jl. Tuanku Tambusai in Pasir Pangaraian, where the water level reached waist-high and cut the only access from Pasir Pangaraian to the Rokan Hulu administrative office.

“Motorists who wished to travel along the trans-Sumatra highway connecting Riau and North Sumatra had to make a detour through an alternative route, which was relatively safe from the overflowing river,” said Pasir Pangaraian resident Syafrizal.

Swift river currents from the upstream area also swept away a grocery shop in Babussalam village, Rambah district.

“The floods arrived suddenly, so the shop owner did not have time to salvage his belongings. Residents tried to help but could not save the shop’s contents due to the very swift current,” said Syafrizal.

Besides Babussalam, homes in North Central Rambah and Pematang Berangan villages were also engulfed by up to 50 centimeters of water. The water level began rising from 6 a.m. and, as of 12 p.m., had yet to show signs of subsiding.

“This is the second flood this year. A couple of weeks ago, the Batang Lubuh River also burst its banks following several days of rain,” said Syafrizal.

Rokan Hulu BPBD head Aceng Herdiana could not disclose the number of residents affected by the floods in the three villages.

“BPBD personnel, assisted by members of the Rokan Hulu Police, are still scouring in the field and helping residents to evacuate,” he said, adding that aid would immediately be distributed to flood victims.

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