Indonesia: Floods, landslides follow days of intense downpours

Hotli Simanjuntak, Ganug Nugroho Adi, Jon Afrizal, Agus Maryono and Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 16;

Extreme weather in several areas across the archipelago has caused landslides and flooding that have displaced thousands of people.

At least 43 villages in five districts in Aceh Singkil regency, Aceh, were inundated after the Cinedang River broke its banks following heavy rain over four consecutive days, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

The flooding — at a depth of between 1 and 2 meters — forced over 7,500 families, consisting of around 30,000 people, from their homes, Aceh Singkil Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Sulaiman said on Wednesday.

It was the biggest flood so far this year but no fatalities were reported, he added.

Several major roads in the region were also cut. At least three bridges connecting Singkil collapsed in the floods, cutting access to the capital of Aceh Singkil regency, Rony, a resident of Subulusalam near Singkil border, told The Jakarta Post.

To ease conditions for affected families, the agency has erected public kitchens in several subdistricts while the Aceh provincial administration has sent logistical supplies.

Water flowing from the Subulusalam and Simpang Kanan regions converges in Aceh Singkil regency, a coastal area in a shallow estuary.“At the same time the regency is also experiencing high tides so the water flowing from the land is not flowing into the sea,” said Aceh Singkil Public Works Agency head Muzni.

Floods have also struck Jambi with at least 263 hectares of agriculture land, mostly rice, chili and corn fields, under water. Jambi Agriculture Agency head Amrin Aziz has warned of crop failures.

The inundated land is located in several regencies such as Muarojambi, Batang Hari, Sarolangun, Tebo and East Tanjung Jabung regencies. Meanwhile, at least one person died and two are missing after landslides struck in Karanganyar, Central Java, on Tuesday. A 30-meter cliff collapsed and buried at least eight villagers who were harvesting rice in Bulurejo village. Five people managed to escape the rubble but three others were not so fortunate.

Search and rescue personnel were continuing the search for the missing people as of Wednesday afternoon.

Nugroho, the head of Karanganyar Disaster Mitigation Agency, said besides landslides, the high-intensity rain also flooded at least three districts in Karanganyar. “We strongly urge residents to be more alert in extreme weather,” he added.

A landslide also cut a 100-meter stretch of road connecting several villages in Cimanggu district, Cilacap regency, Central Java on Tuesday after days of heavy rain, said Darwoko of Bina Marga roads agency in West Cilacap.

Elsewhere in Cilacap thousands of houses in Kroya and Sidareja districts were inundated forcing residents to evacuate.

Meanwhile, a boat traveling from Tanjung Batu, Riau Islands, to Pangkalan Kerinci in Pelalawan regency, Riau province, capsized on Wednesday afternoon, at least four people are reported missing in the incident.

The boat capsized on the Kampar River, Pelalawan Police chief Adj. Sr. Cmr. Ari Wibowo said. The exact number of passengers is not known but at least 20 people survived the incident.

Several witnesses told police the boat capsized as it battled heavy waves, known locally as bono, on the river, the Kampar is notorious for its waves caused by the river’s strong current.

One landslide victim found, one still buried
Karanganyar Jakarta Post 5 Dec 16;

After five days of searching, a search and rescue (SAR) team finally found the body of one of the two landslide victims killed in Karangpandan district, Karanganyar regency, Central Java, on Saturday morning. The victim was identified as Gito Martono, 51, of Sintren Wetan village, Karangpandan.

The SAR team is still trying to find Daliyem, 67, the other victim still buried under the debris. The Karanganyar Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to search for the body of the victim.

National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Surakarta Post spokesman Yohan Tri Anggoro said Gito’s body was found on Friday at 6 p.m. local time around 100 meters from the location where he was harvesting rice. It is believed that he was dragged away and then buried by the landslide.

The landslide occurred on Nov. 29 in the afternoon, when eight people harvesting rice in the paddy fields in Tegalsari hamlet, Bulurejo village, Karangpandan, were buried after a 30-meter-high cliff around them suddenly collapsed.

PLN ups efforts to restore power network
The Jakarta Post 5 Dec 16;

This week Manado, Gorontalo and Kotamobagu will be affected by rolling blackouts due to the collapse of a high-voltage line (SUTT) near the Gorontalo Outer Ring Road (GORR) project.

North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi and Gorontalo (Suluttenggo) state power company PLN acting general manager Liasta Tarigan said the power transmission tower restoration would take around a week.

The No. 6 150 kilovolt SUTT tower connecting the Isimu substation to Marisa substation collapsed. “So, Manado, Gorontalo and Kotamobagu will experience rolling blackouts this week,” said Tarigan.

She added that PLN had to bring in materials from Makassar, South Sulawesi, by air to rebuild the tower, which collapsed due to the landslide. Due to the collapse of the tower, the power system was experiencing a deficit of more than 50 MW.

Windy weather blows warning to Jakartans
Agnes Anya The Jakarta Post 5 Dec 16;

Windy spell: A man inspects a billboard at Gading Serpong Tangerang after it collapsed during a storm on Sunday. The air temperature in Greater Jakarta was estimated at 23 to 31 degrees Celsius with humidity of 60 to 100 percent.(JP/Donny Fernando)

Residents have been urged to be more careful of strong winds that have hit Greater Jakarta this month as the damaging impact of the winds, predicted to last until February, has toppled trees and billboards in public areas.

In Poris, Tangerang, a billboard collapsed on Sunday at around 1:25 p.m. following winds and heavy rainfall in the area. No fatalities were reported but the incident disrupted traffic.

“The recent strong winds were caused by cumulonimbus clouds, which lately have appeared in Greater Jakarta’s skies since the start of the wet season,” said the Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) meteorology division deputy Yunus S. Swarinoto on Sunday.

Cumulonimbus clouds, which consist of ice and water, cause high intensity rains that can trigger winds strong enough to take down rooftops, trees or billboards.

The winds have been part of an anomaly triggered by unstable atmospheric conditions in the extreme weather that has been ongoing since November. According to the BMKG’s predictions, these conditions will lead to increasingly intense thunderstorms until the end of November or beginning of December.

Aside from the strong winds and heavy rains, cumulonimbus clouds can potentially trigger thunderstorms, tornadoes and low temperature rains.

The strong winds and cloudburst amid the rainy season, Yunus said, will likely last until February next year before gradually disappearing at the end of the month, or the beginning of the dry season.

He advised residents in Greater Jakarta to always be on alert, especially when passing trees during the strong winds, and to anticipate any possible disasters, such as floods, landslides and fallen trees, given the current weather phenomena.

Meanwhile, Jakarta’s Parks and Cemeteries Agency head Djafar Muchlisin said hundreds of trees had been knocked down as a result of the strong winds.

The winds uprooted at least 102 trees in the capital on Saturday alone, he said without giving further details on how many trees had collapsed in the rainy season so far.

He further said that to anticipate similar incidents, as well as to avoid fatalities, the agency regularly trimmed thick trees in the city after carrying out regular check-ups on them.

“We have also cut down several trees that were found rotten,” said Djafar, adding that even though there were no human casualties, the fallen trees damaged Transjakarta bus stops and several cars.

Jakarta’s acting governor Sumarsono said last month the administration provided insurance for private property, such as cars, damaged by trees belonging to the administration.

The administration will provide Rp 15 million (US$1,114) in compensation for any damaged cars and Rp 50 million for any casualties.

Strong winds also caused a dome of Ar-Rahmah Mosque in Cipinang Muara, East Jakarta, to collapse on a nearby house on Saturday afternoon. No casualties were reported.

On the same day, traffic at Soekarno-Hatta International airport was disrupted after a billboard and several street signs collapsed in the area. Officials managed to remove the fallen billboards late afternoon.

The Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency has a hotline service at 112 and accepts any disaster-related emergency calls.

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