Indonesia faces severe weather warning

Fardah Assegaf Antara 5 Dec 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Severe weather has hit several regions in Indonesia, triggering hydrological natural disasters, such as floods, landslides, huge sea waves, and strong winds, that have affected thousands of people during the current rainy season.

Cyclones, which are quite rare in the country, have also built up lately, with Cempaka and Dahlia cyclones becoming the famous ones.

Several provinces that have been hit by natural disasters include Aceh Darussalam, Yogyakarta, East Java, Central Java, West Java, North Sumatra, Batam, West Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara, and Riau.

Few of those regions, such as Yogyakarta, East Lombok, Pekalongan Sidoarjo, and Kulon Progo, have declared emergency alert status because of the hydrological natural disasters.

Karangasem District in Bali Province has also declared an emergency status due to eruptions of Mount Agung, forcing thousands of people to evacuate to safer places.

On Nov 28, the Yogyakarta Special Autonomous Provincial Administration has declared an emergency alert status following natural disasters, such as floods, landslides, and whirlwinds, which hit Bantul and Kulon Progo.

The National Meteorological, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency had reported that extreme weather will continue for three days, but Yogyakarta has declared an emergency status for two weeks, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, the governor of Yogyakarta, has stated.

The decision to declare the emergency status was taken during a coordination meeting on disaster mitigation, attended by officials of the Yogyakarta disaster mitigation office.

According to data from Yogyakarta city`s disaster mitigation office, landslides hit nine locations and whirlwinds also affected nine locations, claiming the lives of three residents.

In Kulon Progo, 20 locations were hit by whirlwinds, 27 by landslides, and 6 by floods, affecting 58 people, injuring 3, and leading to 2 others going missing. At least one thousand hectares of rice fields were also inundated.

In Gunung Kidul District, one person died, two were injured, and 3,276 others affected by whirlwinds, landslides, and floods.

In Aceh, floods had hit tens of villages in Lhokseumawe and North Aceh District, following incessant heavy rains over the past several days.

In North Sumatra, floods hit 21 villages in five sub-districts, Tebing Tinggi. The flooding was triggered by incessant heavy rains in upstream areas in Simalungun District and Pematang Siantar, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said in a statement, on Dec 3.

In the districts of Pacitan and Ponorogo in East Java Province, power outage was reported in 80 villages, as power sub-stations were damaged due to flooding in the two districts. A total of 76,362 end users were affected by the power outage.

Coordinating Minister for Culture and Human Development Puan Maharani recently chaired a coordination meeting on hydrological and geological disaster mitigation efforts. Several ministers and relevant high-ranking officials were present in the meeting.

"This meeting discussed coordination to anticipate and mitigate floods and landslides currently occurring in several regions in Indonesia and the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali," Maharani remarked.

Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has called on the public to stay vigilant against severe weather lately.

"I call on the public to stay vigilant because of the extreme weather," Jokowi told the media on Dec 2.

The Head of State has instructed his relevant officials, particularly the personnel of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), the National Police (Polri), the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), and regional administrations, to anticipate the disaster and be ready to provide assistance to the public when needed.

"We have to anticipate the impacts of extreme weather, particularly on food production," he stated.

So far, there have been no reports on the weather`s impact on crop production; however, anticipation should be intensified.

"This is just December, and we will be moving into January soon," he said, referring to the peak of rainy season, which falls in January and February. He added that logistic routes must also be protected from natural disasters.

In fact, according to data of the World Bank, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption.

Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa has revealed that natural disasters have also pushed people into poverty in Indonesia.

"Some 80 percent of people affected by natural disasters have finally pushed them into poverty again, although they had previously been categorized as prosperous," she remarked on Dec 3.

She cited data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) that 323 towns and districts across the country are prone to natural disasters during December this year.

The minister also revealed that the number of people displaced by natural disasters, such as floods, landslides, and volcano eruptions, have significantly increased annually.

The number of evacuees reached 3.2 million during 2017, up from 2.7 million in 2016 and 1.2 million in 2015, Parawansa pointed out, while officially closing the National Jamboree of Muhammadiyah`s volunteers, which was organized by the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center (MDMC).

She lauded the jamboree, because volunteers played crucial roles in helping victims of natural disasters.

The minister also asked every stakeholder in charge of handling disasters to always be ready to deliver assistance, particularly during December, the peak of rainy season.

"The peak of rainy season is in December; therefore, we must increase our vigilance and alertness. Hopefully, we can pass this December safely," she revealed.

(f001/INE/B003)
Editor: Heru Purwanto

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