Indonesia: Floods, landslides, tornado batter Java this week

Gisela Swaragita, Arya Dipa and Ganug Nugroho The Jakarta Post 27 Apr 18;

Extreme weather incidents are marking the ongoing shift from the rainy season to the dry season in Java, as various parts of the island have been hit with heavy rain and twisters, causing floods, landslides and lots of damage.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has issued warnings on the potential for heavy rain and predicts the bad weather to last until Saturday.

Twisters lashed several areas in Central Java’s Wonogiri regency this week, collapsing 40 houses and damaging at least 60 others.

Besides damaging houses, the tornado also knocked down big trees in Jatirejo village of the same regency. Falling trees had hit houses, hawker shops and electricity poles, Wonogiri Disaster Mitigation Agency head Bambang Haryanto said on Thursday.

Despite the losses, Bambang said there had not been any evacuation of residents.

He said the agency’s volunteers were helping residents clean up and repair damaged houses.

“We have asked the volunteers to stay alert, because the weather remains unpredictable,” Bambang said.

A tornado also hit neighboring Klaten regency last Wednesday, uprooting trees that damaged dozens of houses in four districts.

The intense vortex, which hit around 7 p.m., also caused blackouts as electricity wiring was damaged.

“People fled from their houses, because they feared they might collapse. The strong wind swirled, bringing down trees and blowing off roof tiles,” said Irmawan Andriyanto, head of Barepan village, which sustained the most severe damage in Klaten.

The incidents claimed no human lives but caused what is estimated to be hundreds of millions of rupiah in losses.

A tornado also caused panic among people in the nearby city of Yogyakarta, where internet users uploaded photos of the swirling wind seen from several vantage points of the city on Tuesday.

The city itself was spared by the tornado, although it was drenched in heavy rain and lashed with strong winds.

Cianjur regency of West Java was hit with a landslide and flooding on Wednesday due to three hours of intense rain in the afternoon. Several areas of Kertajadi village and Cidamar village of Cidaun district in the regency were inundated.

Meanwhile, a landslide blocked a major road in Wangunjaya village of Naringgul district that day. Soil falling off a 70-meter cliff piled up on some 100 meters of the road connecting Naringgul and Ciwidey district in West Java’s Bandung regency.

The Cianjur Disaster Mitigation Agency said overflow from the Cidamar and Cidaun, the main rivers in the area, had flooded 30 hectares of rice fields and damaged seven houses.

“According to the latest information, 160 houses are impacted by the floods,” West Java Disaster Mitigation Agency mitigation operations manager Budi Budiman Wahyu said.

The bursting of the Cidaun river dam is said to be the cause of the flooding, but an assessment of the disaster is ongoing.

The disasters on Java Island had been sparked by the flow of wet air from the Indian Ocean, which had increased the potential of heavy rain with thunder and strong winds, BMKG deputy head of meteorology Mulyono R. Prabowo said.

The same conditions were predicted to affect many other areas of the archipelagic country.

Mulyono warned about the potential for high waves of up to 4 meters in almost all Indonesian waters.

However, the extreme weather would end soon, probably in early May, when the dry season is predicted to start, the BMKG said.

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