Best of our wild blogs: 19 Jan 15

2015 - Free guided walks at Chek Jawa Boardwalk with the Naked Hermit Crabs
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

The banana (Musa ‘Cavendish’) inflorescence
from Bird Ecology Study Group

When do the Hawk Cuckoos visit Singapore? By Alan OwYong and Yong Ding Li.
from Singapore Bird Group

Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) @ Tampines
from Monday Morgue

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Question on Johor reclamation projects filed in Parliament

MediShield Life: Details next week
Rachel Au-Yong The Straits Times 19 Jan 15;

The details of MediShield Life will be introduced when Parliament sits on Monday, a move that will bring the universal health insurance coverage one step closer to reality.

The proposed scheme - announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech in August 2013 - aims to provide Singaporeans and permanent residents with basic medical insurance for life, regardless of their health status.

The MediShield Life Scheme Bill is among four pieces of legislation that are to be presented on Monday when the House reconvenes after a one-month break.

The Bill is expected to be passed by end-March and, according to the Health Ministry, the scheme will be implemented from the end of this year.

Another Bill that looks set to attract popular attention is on curbs to liquor consumption.

The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill is likely to spell out when and where people can consume liquor in public, as well as the hours allowed for the sale of alcohol.

But before the Bills are presented, the issue of consumer protection here will come under the spotlight during question time.

According to the Order Paper released by Parliament yesterday, MPs have filed 10 questions on it, the most on a topic.

Among their questions are calls to give more teeth to consumer protection agencies and to impose heavier penalties on errant retailers.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who filed two questions, told The Straits Times: "The number of questions is a strong signal from those who represent the people on the ground, that we don't think the current situation is satisfactory, and that we ought to look for other options."

Last year, media reports about a Vietnamese tourist who went down on his knees to beg for the return of his money from mobile-phone shop owner Jover Chew in Sim Lim Square horrified many Singaporeans.

The mall had a reputation for housing shops that allegedly cheat consumers, including tourists.

Another topic of interest is falling oil prices.

Four MPs, including Mr Alvin Yeo (Chua Chu Kang GRC), have filed questions on its impact on Singapore's economy.

Said Mr Yeo: "The conventional wisdom is that an oil-importing country like ours will benefit, but it may not be so clear when we have so many companies in the oil and gas sector.

"I want to know if this will dampen growth."

A total of 72 questions have been filed, including one on the controversial land reclamation projects in the Strait of Johor. They are Forest City near Tuas and Princess Cove near the Causeway.

Both were recently given the green light to restart work.

Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) wants an update on the results of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out by Malaysia.

He said: "I'm concerned about the impact the projects have on our waters and our security.

"I also want to know if the EIA was conducted solely by Malaysia, or if it was a joint one, and if not, whether we plan to do one."

The other Bills are on regulating deep-seabed mining activities and a new tribunal to deal with feuding neighbours.

The House will also debate three Bills, including one on changes to the Industrial Relations Act.

It seeks to let Singapore have a union for professionals, managers and executives, a group that rank-and-file unions cannot represent because of possible conflicts of interest.

What's new

The MediShield Life Scheme Bill, which aims to provide Singaporeans and permanent residents with basic medical insurance for life, regardless of their health status.

The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill, which is likely to spell out when and where people can consume liquor in public, as well as the hours allowed for the sale of alcohol.

The other new Bills are on regulating deep-seabed mining activities and a new tribunal to deal with feuding neighbours.

- See more at:

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NParks eyes first-aid facility on Pulau Ubin

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 19 Jan 15;

SINGAPORE — The National Parks Board (NParks) is exploring the possibility of setting up a first-aid facility on Pulau Ubin, as interest in cycling on the island grows.

While statistics on the total number of cycling accidents on the island are unavailable — given that not all injuries are reported — islanders and bicycle kiosk operators say they come across an average of about 20 such cases a month. These occur despite measures that have been put in place by the authorities, including the installation of about 30 warning signs at dangerous spots.

Tourists, who may be at greater risk of getting into cycling accidents on the island because they are not familiar with the terrain, are also forming a bigger proportion of the 2,000 or so visitors to the island every weekend.

When contacted by TODAY, NParks director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah said: “We are exploring a suggestion from residents and visitors to set up a first-aid facility on the island.”

While he did not provide details, TODAY understands that factors such as the suitability and accessibility of the site would be among the considerations when deciding whether to build a facility of this kind.

Currently, police officers and NParks staff stationed on the island are certified to administer first-aid. In response to TODAY’s queries, the police said their officers stationed there are equipped with a first-aid kit comprising basic items such as adhesive bandages and disinfectant solutions.

“Owing to the lack of a well-equipped medical facility on Pulau Ubin, the Pulau Ubin Police Post officers are also equipped with a stretcher to aid in the evacuation of a casualty,” the spokesperson said.

Depending on the extent of the injuries, a casualty may be transported to the mainland on a Police Coast Guard patrol vessel or met by ambulance crew on the island, the spokesperson added.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it responded to two cycling-related incidents on Pulau Ubin last year, and to five in 2013. All the casualties were alert and conscious when taken to hospital.

But bicycle shop operators and cyclists said a first-aid facility would ensure injured cyclists get help more promptly. Currently, they either ask passers-by to call the SCDF or police emergency hotlines, or go to NParks’ Ubin-HSBC Volunteer Hub and Chek Jawa Visitor Centre to seek help.

Mr Ewyn Lek, 29, a staff member at Comfort Bicycle Rentals, said: “It doesn’t have to operate daily, but maybe during peak periods such as public holidays or on weekends.”

The facility could be modelled after a mobile first-aid station, similar to those at mass cycling events, said avid cyclist and business owner Alvin Low, 42.

Dr Steven Lim, chief of Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) accident and emergency department, said cycling injuries on Pulau Ubin can “range from moderate to severe with either head, facial, wrist, ankle or neck fractures from trauma”.

Apart from the first-aid facility, visitors such as Mr Michael, 50, the managing director of a multinational company, said helmets, which are rented out mostly for S$2 from the bicycle kiosks, should be made compulsory for Ubin cyclists. Only about one in 10 customers request one, said an employee of Yen Fa Bicycle Rental on the island.

When TODAY visited Ubin on Jan 11, several cyclists were seen descending a slope near Belatok Hut at high speed, ignoring safety signs telling them to dismount and push their bicycles.

Full-time national serviceman Loke Jun Wei, 19, said that some tourists may have difficulty understanding the signs because of a language barrier.

NParks’ Mr Wong said other measures implemented on the island include notice boards at the jetty informing visitors of safe cycling practices and the colour-coding of trails of varying difficulty levels at the Ketam Mountain Bike Park.

He urged cyclists to exercise responsibility by wearing helmets and protective gear, observing the signs, and adopting safe cycling practices. “Novice and younger cyclists should be accompanied by experienced, adult cyclists,” Mr Wong added.

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Malaysia: Lessons from the great floods

MARTIN KHOR The Star 19 Jan 15;

The recent floods should be treated as a 'new normal' linked to regular weather extremes, and a system should be established to curb the causes and effectively managed disasters.

THE first half month of 2015 saw Malaysians pre-occupied with the big clean-up following the big floods that swamped many states, especially in the east coast.

It will take some time to get houses, schools, hospitals, offices, roads, drains, railway tracks, back into pre-flood shape.

The cost of doing so is staggering, with each the initial figure exceeded by new estimates.

The total will run into many billions of ringgit. The Government will foot the bill for repairing public facilities; and there is some government and spirited public help for flood victims’ personal losses.

But the affected people will still bear immense suffering and losses, for example, of lost business and livelihood income on top of the lost household belongings.

It is time to learn the lessons and prepare for the future.

Hopefully a high-powered coordinating council will deal with all aspects of analysing the causes of the floods and how severe we can expect future floods to be, of minimising the causative factors, preparing better to mitigate future events, and preparing to manage them more effectively when they inevitably happen again.

Recent events and climate science strongly indicate that the 2014 downpour and floods are not one-off events but part of a national, regional and global pattern linked to climate change and extreme weather events. And that we can expect the situation to worsen, more and more, in future years and decades.

Malaysia has experienced increase in temperature, consistent with the global warming trend, according to data in a 2012 paper by Yap Kok Seng, then the head of the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD), and his colleagues.

The global temperature increase has led to changes in weather, including major wind patterns, amount and intensity of precipitation, and increased frequency of severe storms and weather extremes, according to the paper, “Malaysia Climate Change Scenarios”.

Malaysia has experienced more extreme weather events over the past decades, as well as an increase in weather extremes, says the paper, backed up by graphs and statistics.

This increase could be associated with the natural variability in the sea surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (El Niño/La Niña events) and the Indian Ocean (Indian Ocean Dipole).

For example, the north-east monsoon of 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 brought torrential rain and floods to Malaysia, with the 2006/7 monsoon being the worst recorded over the southern part of the peninsula, especially in Johor, causing the worst floods.

“Other extreme events such as severe thunderstorms, dry periods and haze have become more prevalent over the recent years. Due to the complex interaction of the atmosphere, ocean and biosphere, global warming definitely has contributed to these changes, with climate variability and global warming acting in the same direction over the period.”

The paper points out that as the climate changes due to global warming, therefore, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) also continue to increase. Higher SSTs are generally accompanied by increased water vapour in the lower troposphere, thus the moist static energy that fuels convection and thunderstorms is also increased. Most tropical rainfall, as experienced in Malaysia, is from the thunderstorm activities.

According to the MMD analysis, Malaysia has experienced the following changes:

> Since 1980s there have been increasing number of days of extreme rainfall events.

> The number of days with extreme wind events has also increased at several stations.

> The peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak have seen an increase in the number of annual thunderstorm days.

The paper indicates that the north-east monsoon and the south-west monsoon have become more intense. Annual rainfall data for the period 2000-2009 compared to1970-1999 show an increase in rainfall for most parts of the peninsula (except the central part) and Sabah and Sarawak, and this occurred in the past five-year period of 2005-2009.

The regions with the most increase in rainfall are the north-east coast and north-west coastal parts of the peninsula, the central coast of Sarawak and north Sabah.

Interestingly, the paper also finds that there are more frequent and intense dry years (the 1975-2005 period compared to 1951-75), which are only partly due to El Niño events.

It thus appears that the new weather pattern in Malaysia includes both heavier rainfall and dryer spells – even within the same year. This explains the co-existence of no-rainfall months causing water shortages in various states with high-rainfall and flooding months in other states or even the same states.

The lesson from all this is that we have to pay more attention to increasing extremes and extreme events in the weather, counteract their causes and deal with their effects. In climate change terms, this means having plans for mitigation, adaptation and loss-and-damage.

While in the short term we can do little to alter weather patterns, we can certainly do a lot to prevent making the situation worse.

Top on the list is to stop further deforestation. The widespread chopping of trees, especially in highland areas, is a major reason why intense rainfall causes so much flooding.

The natural tree cover breaks the falling rain and allows the gentler drip of water to seep into the ground, providing ground-water to flow into reservoirs.

When trees are removed, the rain falls heavily onto the ground, removes the soil, and the water plus the soil is swept into streams and rivers, which get clogged up with soil and which are also filled quickly with the high volume of rain water.

The damage begins in the upper reaches of the river and is transformed into devastation as the engorged river reaches town areas, breaches its banks, and the raging waters sweep along houses, cars and everything else in its way.

After each disaster, promises are made to stop deforestation and disallow highland development. But after a few months and years, the logging and development work begin again, causing even more damage the next time there are heavy rains.

This time, the situation has become so serious, the public expects firm and effective action from all levels of government and all relevant agencies.

Besides conserving the forests, there are many other ways to mitigate and adapt better.

These include replanting of trees in deforested areas; soil conservation as a strategy and major activity all over the country; de-silting of rivers and streams; the vast improvement of drainage in urban and rural areas; climate-proofing of buildings, including building new schools and houses on stilts or on pillars in flood-prone areas; protecting coastal areas from storms, winds and high waves including through conserving and replanting mangroves.

There is also the whole set of activities for better management of floods and other disasters, including establishment of permanent evacuation centres; early warning systems; earlier and better systems of evacuation; stocking and distribution of food, clean water, medicine and other essentials to victims; plans for repair and rehabilitation; and the up-front allocation of financing.

If we treat the “great floods” not as once-in-20-years or once-in-a-lifetime events, but as part of the “new normal”, then the plans for a better eco-system and for managing the disasters can be made more systematically, and a significant budget for regular financing can also be set aside.

Let’s hope that we do learn the lessons of the recent great floods and prepare comprehensively to prevent, mitigate and manage them effectively. We may not be able to achieve “Never the floods again”, but we must achieve “Effectively manage the heavy rains and floods that are sure to come”.

> Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre, a research centre of 51 developing countries, based in Geneva. You can e-mail him at The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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Malaysia: Sarawak hit by severe floods

YU JI AND ANDY CHUA The Star 19 Jan 15;

KUCHING: While floodwaters in the east coast of the peninsula have largely receded, continuous rain over the past three days have caused floods in Kuching, Kota Samarahan, Mukah, Simunjan and Limbang.

The Meteorological Department has issued an “orange” alert warning for heavy rain until today over Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah and Bintulu, placing many low-lying areas and settlements by riverbanks at risk of rising floodwaters.

Shalihan Annuar, the National Security Council’s assistant secretary for Sarawak, said as of 9.50pm, at least 1,023 people from all over the state had been evacuated.

Among the worst hit areas were Padawan and Simunjan, about 100km from Kuching, where nine villages are inundated. Further north at Balingian in the coastal town of Mukah, 35 families were evacuated.

Shalihan said 99 families were also moved to relief centres as floodwaters rose rapidly at Limbang.

“The exact number of evacuees is not known yet,” he said, adding that the numbers were expected to increase.

Several major roads in Sarawak were also under water last night, including Jalan Jemukan in Samarahan, Jalan Kampung Selabi and Tempurong in Serian, Jalan Kuching-Serian Lama in Siburan, Jalan Ranau Baru in Lawas, and Jalan Utama, Oya and Sungai Ud in Dalat.

“Four landslides have also been reported in the Bau and Padawan areas,” he said.

A 17-year-old girl was reported missing after a longboat sank in the Batang Mukah river during heavy rain at 6am yesterday.

Atikah Rosli of Kampung Tanjung, was with three other passengers, who managed to swim to safety.

Mukah Fire and Rescue Department chief Alimat Sam said the boat was believed to have overturned due to strong currents.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem told reporters that the situation was under control.

“We are prepared for any eventualities,” he said after visiting the Kuching Barrage, which regulates the Sarawak River.

Data from the Irrigation and Drainage Department showed that areas in and around Kuching received between 54mm and 125mm of rain yesterday.

Flash floods hit Sarawak
YU JI The Star 19 Jan 15;

KUCHING: Flash floods hit several low-lying areas in southern and central Sarawak since pre-dawn, Sunday, after almost three days of incessant rain.

According to the National Security Council, so far, 56 people have been evacuated in Mukah, a seaside town in central Sarawak, about a two-hour drive from Sibu.

In the state capital, incidents of flash flooding have occurred at several residential and commercial estates.

One of the worst affected areas here is at Univista Garden, between the city centre and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, where waters were about three-feet high around 10am.

Resident Abang Rosman told The Star that flood waters entered his house around 4am.

Another resident Dayang Hummida Abang Rahman blamed the drainage system.

"The drains are too small. It only took 30 minutes between the drains becoming full and water entering my house," she said.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department has issued an "Orange Stage" heavy rain warning for the divisions of Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah and Bintulu.

The forecast is for the rain to persist until Monday.

According to data from the Irrigation and Drainage Department, areas in Kuching recorded between 30mm and 98mm of rainfall since midnight.

Strong Wind In Several Areas To Continue Until Tuesday
Bernama 18 Jan 15;

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- Strong north-easterly winds blowing over the waters of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, East Johor, Sarawak, Sabah (Interior, West Coast and Kudat) and Labuan are expected to continue until Tuesday (Jan 20).

According to a statement issued by the Meteorological Department, the strong winds with a speed of between 50 and 60 kmph and waves up to a height of 4.5 metres were dangerous for all shipping and coastal activities including fishing and ferry services.

"In addition, the coastal areas in Kelantan, Terengganu and East Johor are exposed to a rising sea level until tomorrow," it said.

The department also warned that strong north-easterly winds with speeds of 40 to 50 kmph and waves as high as 3.5 metres blowing over Sabah (Sandakan) waters were expected to continue until Tuesday and the condition was dangerous for small boats, sea recreation and sea sports.

Meanwhile, thunder storms over the waters of Sarawak and strong winds with speeds of 50 to 60 kmph and waves of as high as 4.5 metres would continue until late this afternoon.

The statement added that the situation in other areas including the waters of Condore, Reef North, Layang-layang, Palawan, Samui, Tioman, Bunguran, Kuching, Labuan and Sulu which were experiencing strong winds with speeds of between 50 to 60 kmph was expected to continue until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the thunder storm alert in the waters of Bunguran, Reef South and Kuching with waves reaching up to 4.5 metres and the waters of Sulawesi with waves of up to 3.5 metres high, was expected to persist until late this afternoon.

The condition would be dangerous for all coastal and shipping activities.


Flood: Garbage to be cleared by month-end
New Straits Times 18 Jan 15;

PEKAN: By month-end, the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation will clear garbage sedimented by floods at several districts in Pahang.

Its chief executive offi cer, Datuk Ab Rahim Md Noor said to date, 60 per cent of the 25,000 tonnes of garbage at flood-affected areas had been cleared.

“God-willing, the balance of the 40 per cent will be disposed off at the end of this month.

“Temerloh has the most garbage due to the floods, at 20,000 tonnes, 80 per cent of which has been cleared,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters at the corporation’s Humanitarian Mission Help Flood Victims ceremony, together with the Mata Hati Association at Taman Pelangkah near here today.

During the ceremony, Ab Rahim and the corporation staff took part in a gotong-royong with residents to clean up the area which was inundated by the recent floods.

Meanwhile, Ab Rahim, who is also the association president, said the corporation and the association would join forces to help flood victims in the state to repair electrical goods damaged by floods.

“We have association members comprising community college students who can repair electrical items. “In addition, we will also hold numerous activities to boost awareness among the public on cleanliness and factors contributing to floods,” he added.


High tide ends brief respite in Sarawak

KUCHING: There was a brief respite for flood evacuees in the state after the rain stopped at around noon, allowing the closure of three relief centres.

However, when high tide came at 4pm yesterday, the waters rose again, causing the number of evacuees to climb to 5,178 — the highest since shelters opened on Sunday evening.

At 5pm, two stations along Sara­wak River showed readings above the danger level while three others were at the warning level.

According to the National Security Council, 34 shelters were opened across Sarawak by evening, of which 19 were in the Kuching division, serving 2,677 evacuees.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang said the Kuching Barrage would close and open according to the tide level, pointing out that flood gates at the Sarawak River mouth could “quite effectively” control the inflow and outflow of water.

During high tide, the Kuching Barrage would close and only open if swift currents from upstream push up the water level.

Jabu, who is state disaster relief committee chairman, said he did not expect the flood situation to worsen as long as it did not rain continuously like it did over the weekend.

Starting today until Sunday, tides are likely to be even higher.

Today, high tide is estimated at 6m around 5pm.The Drainage and Irrigation De­­part­­ment is forecasting the “king tide” to hit 6.3m on Thursday and Friday between 6.30pm and 7.30pm.

The Malaysian Meteorological De­­­partment extended its “orange stage” heavy rain warning (originally due to end yesterday morning) for another day. The warning covers the Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah and Bintulu divisions.

In Mukah, the body of a 17-year old girl, who went missing on Sunday when a longboat she was travelling on with four others capsized in Sungai Mukah, has been found.

Mukah Fire and Rescue Depart­ment chief Alimat Sam said the body of Atikah Rosli was found by a fisherman at 8.05am yesterday about 7km from where the boat overturned due to strong waves.

In Miri, some 10 settlements in various parts of the middle basin of Ulu Baram in northern Sarawak have been cut off from the outside world as floodwaters reached remote areas of the state.

As at press time yesterday, parts of the Mulu National Park were flooded following a day of incessant rain.

Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said the latest round of floods in Baram was more severe than the first one about two weeks ago.

“This time, more settlements are flooded, with the water level at some places more than a metre high,” he said.

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Indonesia Must Boost Disaster Prevention Efforts: Experts

Officials estimate that natural disasters incur losses of as much as Rp 30 trillion ($2.3 billion) on average
Jakarta Globe 19 Jan 15;

Jakarta. As natural disasters continue to hit parts of Indonesia, more regional leaders are asking for an increase in disaster relief funding from the central government.

Should Indonesia fail to boost its prevention efforts, state spending on rescue operations and the rebuilding process will only continue to expand, experts on the matter have argued.

The budget, they added, could otherwise be used for other purposes, such as developing the nation’s infrastructure.

Officials estimate natural disasters incur losses of up to Rp 30 trillion ($2.3 billion) on average, while disaster relief funds available for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) total only Rp 3 trillion per year.

Officials from East Nusa Tenggara’s local disaster-management agency reported on Saturday that natural disasters, including floods and landslides, have killed seven people across 13 districts so far this year, causing billions of rupiah in damages.

“These disasters have not only killed our people, they have also destroyed houses and public infrastructure,” said Tini Thadeus, head of the East Nusa Tenggara disaster agency.

The province’s East Sumba district has so far reported losses of up Rp 1 billion from floods and torrential rains, during which some 700 houses were damaged.

The local disaster agency is still estimating losses caused by natural disasters in 12 other districts and has asked for help from the BNPB, Tini said.

Floods and landslides are common occurrences throughout the archipelago during the rainy season, which usually runs from October to April.

The BNPB said as many as 270 districts and municipalities in Indonesia, a majority of which are on the islands of Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi, are prone to landslides. These areas are home to 124 million people — about half the country’s population.

According to a 2012 study sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund, BNBP and the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), 99 percent of Indonesia’s population of 250 million people lives in an area with “very high risk” of natural disasters, meaning at least one natural disaster has occurred in the area in the past five years.

Experts have agreed that with global warming and climate change disrupting weather patterns, including by triggering more frequent and heavier rainfall, the prevalence of natural disasters might
continue to increase, posing even more threats to Indonesia.

A recent landslide in Banjarnegara, Central Java, claimed 39 people after heavy rain triggered the disaster, burying dozens of homes.

More than a dozen of people were injured and more than 70 others remain missing, while a total of 577 people have been displaced from their homes and are now staying in temporary shelters, the BNPB says.

Geologist Haryadi Permana of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, or LIPI, and Gede Suantika, an official with the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) both agreed that the country need to boost its preventive measures to avoid more victims and damages.

“We must intensify warnings against disasters ahead of rainy months,” Gede said.

Floods inundate 16 districts and cities across Indonesia
Antara 14 Jan 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Floods have inundated thousands of houses in 16 districts and cities across Indonesia over the past few days, stated an official.

"As earlier predicted, floods will continue to intensify as we enter January. Rainy season in January has the potential to trigger floods and landslides," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), noted here on Tuesday.

The peak of the rainy season is forecast to occur in January until February and is likely to trigger floods and landslides, he claimed.

The flood-affected districts and cities include Malinau, Langkat, Kudus, Tegal, Demak, Rokan Hilir, Pandeglang, Semarang, Situbondo, Aceh Tamiang, Donggala, Labuan Batu Utara, Tebing Tinggi, Medan, Kupang, and Jayapura.

"Although there is no major flooding, thousands of houses have been inundated in the regions," he noted.

The Tebing Tinggi city in North Sumatra has been flooded on three occasions during the last two weeks following incessant torrential rains in Simalungun Districts upstream areas that triggered Padang and Bahilang rivers to overflow their banks.

"Flood waters reaching heights between 20 centimeters and 1.5 meters inundated the sub-districts of Padang Hulu, Bajenis, Tebing Tinggi, and Rambutan in Tebing Tinggi District," he stated.

The Tebing Tinggi disaster mitigation office (BPBD) has evacuated several flood victims and has distributed relief aid.

In Demak District, Central Java Province, several villages in Karangwetan sub-district were flooded after the Cabean River broke its embankment at Rejosari village, he stated.

Some 257 houses in Demak were submerged in flood waters, while the Grobogan Purwodadi-Semarang road was also inundated by flood waters scaling heights of up to 50 centimeters.

"The National Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has forecast very high-intensity rains in January 2015 to potentially occur in Central Javas northern coastal areas, western, and southern Banten, Aceh, South Sulawesi, Gorontalo, North Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua," he reported.

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