Indonesia: Extreme weather persists, blocking access to victims

Lita Aruperes, Ganug Nugroho Adi and Agus Maryono The Jakarta Post 22 Jun 16;

The extreme weather that has devastated parts of Indonesia continued on Tuesday, increasing the death toll as harsh conditions have hampered rescue efforts.

As of Tuesday, floods and landslides in Purworejo regency, Central Java, had killed 37 with seven people reported missing. A significant increase from the 22 fatalities recorded on Monday.

The National Mitigation Disaster Agency (BNPB) said that Purworejo administration had declared a
state of emergency for 30 days until July 18.

The BNPB said current conditions had hindered rescue operations because road access to villages in Purworejo were buried from landslides.

“I also have asked local police to provide bloodhounds to help find the missing people,” BNPB head Willem Rampangilei said.

Similarly, the local administration in Kebumen regency, Central Java, declared a 15-day state of emergency until July 3 after heavy rain fell for eight hours on Monday causing two deaths and six missing.

The Kebumen Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) also reported that hundreds of homes were inundated and four bridges collapsed.

A third state of emergency was declared in Surakarta, Central Java, by Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo on Tuesday, although the flooding that inundated 15 villages and three districts in the city had subsided.

Rudy said the government was preparing to repair the damaged infrastructure.

“Much infrastructure is damaged from the flooding and thus has to be repaired. The public works agency is still compiling data on the damaged infrastructure, and we are focusing on cleaning the areas that were flooded,” he said.

According to Rudy, the city’s poor drainage system contributed to the flooding.

In Banyumas, hundreds of residents are at risk of starvation as access to their homes has been cut off by landslides.

Likewise, around 600 people in Watuagung could not evacuate their village because landslides blocked access points.

“If, after one or two weeks, access to the village is still blocked, hundreds of Watuagung residents could begin starving,” a volunteer named Aris said, adding that the village was located in a hard-to-reach location through a narrow and bumpy road.

Banyumas Disaster Mitigation Agency has been trying to evacuate the residents but to no avail.

“The terrain is difficult. We have deployed heavy equipment but we are yet to reach the village. We’re still devising an effective evacuation method,” the agency’s head, Prasetyo, told The Jakarta Post.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) it is predicted all six provinces in Java will see heavy rain with strong winds and thunder.

Willem said people needed to be cautious as the predicted heavy rainfall would likely cause flooding and landslides again.

Floods and landslides also occurred in North Sulawesi, killing one person in Manado.

The victim, Meity Mawuntu, was driving in a Toyota Avanza car with four other people when an electricity pole fell and hit the car.

Electricity blackouts affecting some areas of Manado also occurred as a result of the accident.

Meanwhile, Sangihe Island regency in North Sulawesi was hit by floods and landslides on Monday morning trapping four people. It is still unknown whether they have been rescued.

The BNPB reported that there were 200 people trapped in their homes.

In response, Sangihe Disaster Mitigation Agency, local military and police personnel, a search and rescue team and volunteer groups have established emergency posts and soup kitchens for victims. (wnd)

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