Indonesia: Floods, landslides leave thousands displaced

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, Ganug Nugroho Adi, and Agus Maryono
The Jakarta Post Jakarta Post 8 Dec 16;

Bad weather has continued to hit regions across the country, leading to overflowing rivers, landslides and floods that have resulted in thousands of people leaving their houses and farmers enduring crop failures.

Heavy downpours in West Sumatra caused rivers in the northern part of the province to overflow and inundate hundreds of houses and farming areas, covering dozens of hectares.

According to the head of the logistics and emergency unit at the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), R. Pagar Negara, as of Wednesday, at least 260 houses in the Ujung Gading district in West Pasaman regency were inundated with up to 1.5 meters of water.

“In East Pasaman regency, some 30 houses have been inundated and dozens of hectares of farming areas have been damaged,” Pagar said in Padang on Wednesday.

Landslides have cut off access to major roads in Agam regency. In Palupuh, for example, collapsing sediment had blocked a road connecting the province’s two biggest cities, Padang and Bukittinggi, he said.

“The major road connecting Bukittinggi to areas in North Sumatra was eventually reopened after more than six hours of work to clear up the collapsed debris,” he said.

Pagar said West Sumatra BPBD had issued warnings for people in the province to stay alert because extreme weather was predicted to continue through January.

He added almost all areas in the province were prone to heavy downpour and winds while fishermen living on the Mentawai Islands have been asked to stay alert for oversized waves.

In Wonogiri, Central Java, hundreds of people from six different villages have been living at temporary shelters due to the Beton river overflowing and flooding their homes.

“The depth of the inundation varies, between 50 centimeters to one meter. Almost every year we have suffered from flooding, but this time it seems to be the worse,” Heru Susilo, a resident, said.

Wonogiri BPBD head Bambang Haryanto said as many as 10 inflatable boats had been deployed to help evacuate residents.

“Affected residents have been temporarily sheltered in mosques and schools,” Bambang said.

The landslides in Sukomakmur Village in Magelang, Central Java, and Citorek Village in Lebak, Banten, meanwhile, have killed five people collectively, according to data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

The prolonged heavy rain in the northern part of Central Java has damaged major roads. The total length of road damages reached 80 kilometers across four regencies, according to Djoko Satriyo from the Bina Marga road directorate general, which oversees roads in the Banyumas-Purworejo area.

Data from BNPB showed that, as of October this year, there have been 575 landslides, killing 177 people, which is an increase from last year’s 515 landslides resulting in 135 fatalities.

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