Indonesia: One dead following heavy rains, flooding across Riau

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 21 Jan 16;

Flooding caused by heavy downpours and overflowing rivers has inundated several regions in the country, killing at least one person and paralyzing economic activities in the affected areas.

In Kampar, Riau, floods have engulfed several districts in the regency over the past three days, causing material damage and claiming the life of 10-year-old M. Rifai Afri.

Rifai, who lived in Palung Raya subdistrict, Tambang district, was reported missing on Sunday afternoon at around 3 p.m. local time by his father, who had left him alone at home to buy kerosene.

The SD 15 state elementary school fifth grader was last seen playing alone not far from his home. He was believed to have slipped into a 120-centimeter-deep ground hole that had filled with water from the Kampar River, which had bursts its banks. As he could not swim, he was swept by strong river currents.

“His body was found the next day. His family refused an autopsy be performed on him as it wanted to bury him immediately,” Kampar Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Santoso said on Wednesday.

Overflowing water from the Kampar River has submerged areas along its banks after the Koto Panjang
hydroelectric power plant (PLTA) was forced to open its sluice gates to maintain a water level of 85 meters above sea level. Incessant rain in upstream areas in the neighboring West Sumatra province has caused water to fill up the dam drastically.

Apart from engulfing around 5,000 homes, flooding has also swamped various public facilities, including schools along the Kampar River basin area passing through the seven districts of Kampar, North Kampar, East Kampar, Rumbio Jaya, Tambang, Siak Hulu, and Perhentian Raja.

The Kampar Education Agency said that as many as 66 schools were been forced to close as classrooms were engulfed up to a meter high.

“There is no access to schools and the flooding could endanger the safety of children,” said Kampar Health Agency secretary Edi Rusmadinata.

Separately, Kampar Fishery Agency head Usman Amin said water released from the Koto Panjang PLTA had also caused hundreds of fish farmers from Merangin village, Kuok district, to Gobah village, Tambang district, to suffer losses of up to Rp 5.6 billion (US$414,000).

Spokesperson for the Riau and Riau Islands branch of state power company PLN, Sarno, said the dam must release its water to maintain its capacity and strength.

“The release of water from the dam due to overcapacity has been carried out for years. Before water is released, every area passed by the river is notified through village elders, community figures and village officials,” he said.

Flooding has also hit several regions in South Sumatra and East Java over the past several days.

In South Sumatra, a flash flood triggered by heavy downpours over the past couple of days has engulfed hundreds of homes in Muara Kelingi district, Musirawas regency. The 3-meter flash flood, caused by the overflowing Musi River following heavy rains from Monday, has brought people’s daily activities to a halt.

In Pamekasan regency, East Java, 11 local government buildings were inundated by floodwater on Wednesday following heavy downpours in the region’s downtown area for more than four hours.

Among the affected buildings are those belonging to the regency’s industry and trade, public works, irrigation and disaster mitigation agencies.

“All documents, however, are safe, as the floods occurred during work hours,” Pamekasan Irrigation Agency head Achmad Sjaifuddin said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Flash flood damages homes, bridge in Jambi

The Jakarta Post 20 Jan 16;

A flash flood, triggered by the swollen Batang Asam River, struck houses in Tanjung Belit village, Jujuhan district, Bungo regency, Jambi, on Monday.

“The incidence took place at about 2 a.m. local time when most people were fast asleep. After seeing the water rise, people immediately left their homes,” said villager Azhar on Tuesday.

“A nearby bridge was also engulfed by water and logs have piled up under it,” he added.

Tanjung Belit village chief Mahyudin said that besides damaging homes, the flash flood also cut off access to the village.

“As a result, the road heading to the bridge is impassable for four-wheeled vehicles,” said Mahyudin.

Death toll rises as heavy rains cause more flooding, landslides
Jon Afrizal, Syamsul Huda M. Suhari and Lita Aruperes, The Jakarta Post 22 Jan 16;

Heavy downpours have continued to spread across the archipelago, triggering a landslide that killed at least three people in Jambi and North Sulawesi and floods that submerged hundreds of houses in Gorontalo.

A series of heavy rainfalls throughout Wednesday in Kerinci regency, Jambi, has triggered a landslide that buried three people alive in the hilly Sungai Air Sangkil area in East Air Hangat district.

The three victims, identified as Buyung, 42, Sardono, 24, and Wani, 37, worked as laborers on a farm in the area.

“The three victims were on their way home on Wednesday when the landslide buried them,” East Air Hangat district chief Montes told reporters on Thursday.

As of Thursday, local authorities had only managed to recover the bodies of Buyung and Sardono.

“We are still looking for the body of the third victim,” East Air Hangat Police chief First Insp. Iswanto said.

Another landslide triggered by heavy rainfalls in Manado, North Sulawesi, also killed 61-year-old Fredy Tengker on a farm near his house in Malalayang district on Thursday.

“I was delivering lunch for my brother when I found his body swept away by soil quite far from the farm,” the victim’s brother, Max Tengker, said.

Meanwhile in Gorontalo province, heavy rains poured in Gorontalo and North Gorontalo regencies from Wednesday evening to Thursday afternoon, triggering floods that inundated at least eight villages in the two neighboring regions.

Head of logistics at Gorontalo Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Tahir Laendeng, said floodwater and mud had inundated more than 200 houses in four villages in Gorontalo regency.

Tahir said his agency had set up two evacuation shelters to anticipate the continued impacts of the floods.

“We have also prepared food supplies for flood victims,” he said.

In North Gorontalo, Nurdin, a local BPBD official, said floods had hit at least four villages in Sumalata district.

“Hutakalo subdistrict is the worst affected area as floodwater there has inundated dozens of houses up to two meters deep. As of this [Thursday] afternoon, there is no sign that the floodwater will subside,”
Nurdin said.

After experiencing a prolonged dry season last year, many parts of the country have welcomed the arrival of the rainy season over the past several weeks.

In late November, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned that several areas, including North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu, Jambi and South Sumatra, would be prone to floods on account of heavy downpours. Meanwhile, other regions, including Bengkulu, Aceh, southern parts of West Java, parts of Central Java and West Nusa Tenggara, were said to be prone to landslides.

Last month, more than a dozen villagers in Lebong Tandai, North Bengkulu, were killed when a landslide triggered by a heavy rainfall hit the huts where they were sleeping.

Meanwhile in Kampar regency, Riau, a 10-year-old child died earlier this week after he was swept away by floods due to heavy downpours and an overflowing Kampar River.

The BMKG, however, has warned that heavy rainfall will continue to pour in many parts of the country for the rest of the week.

“Rain with medium to high intensity will continue to spread across Gorontalo and North Gorontalo regencies starting on Thursday afternoon,” Gorontalo BMKG forecaster Fatuhri said.

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