Indonesia: Landslides hit areas across Semarang

Suherdjoko Suherdjoko The Jakarta Post 18 Nov 16;

An early start to the rainy season in Central Java has led to several areas across the province’s capital, Semarang, suffering landslides.

Heavy rain, which fell in Semarang from Sunday through Tuesday, caused landslides in five locations — two in Lempongsari and three others in Deliksari, Randusari and Tegalsari. All landslides occurred in hilly areas. No injuries or fatalities were reported in the incidents.

On Thursday, local residents continued to clean up and repair houses hit by the landslides. The landslide in Lempongsari subdistrict, Gajahmungkur district, damaged the back part of a house belonging to local resident Suratman when a huge rock struck his house. The home of another Lempongsari resident, Kristanto, was damaged when a retaining wall collapsed in the incident.

Semarang Mayor Hendrar Prihadi visited the affected sites on Wednesday. “I ask the Semarang Disaster Mitigation Agency [BPBD] to coordinate with the Indonesian Military, the National Police and local residents to jointly clean up and repair houses damaged by the landslides,” he said.

Hendrar added that his administration had mapped out areas with the potential to suffer from natural disasters, such as floods, landslides and high tides, during this year’s rainy season.

“We also want all residents to stay alert in facing this extreme weather,” he added.

BPBD head Budi Setiawan said 13 areas were prone to landslides in Central Java — Bongsari, Candi, Gisikdrono, Jomblang, Kembangarum, Lempongsari, Petompon, Randusari, Simongan, Tambakaji, Tembalang, Tinjomoyo and Wonosari. (ebf)

More absorption wells needed to mitigate flooding: Hydrologist
The Jakarta Post 18 Nov 16;

A renowned hydrologist has urged regional administrations in flood-prone areas to create more absorption wells to anticipate possible future floods, as the rainy season is unlikely to end soon.

Water and hydrology expert Fatchy Muhammad said creating more artificial aquifers was imperative to restore the balance of nature, as a lot of catchment areas have been sacrificed to accommodate public and business interests.

“Many catchment areas have now been transformed into something else. If transforming a forest to a farm greatly affects water absorption capacity, imagine when it is transformed into a housing complex,” he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Fatchy said urban development was inevitable but with good and well-planned government regulations, such as requiring developers to create more water retention facilities like absorption wells, the situation would improve.

Floods have hit areas across the country recently, with data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) showing that 659 floods have affected the archipelago, while simultaneous floods and landslides had occurred 53 times as of mid-November.

On Monday, water from overflowing rivers flooded thousands of houses in the West Java municipalities of Tangerang, Bekasi and Karawang following heavy rain. In Telukbuyung village, Karawang regency, 678 houses, two mosques, two schools and seven prayer rooms were inundated, while at the Bintang Alam housing complex, 650 houses had been flooded, affecting 997 people.

On Tuesday, flooding in Rokan Hulu regency, Riau province, inundated almost 2,000 houses in five districts. The province is notorious for illegal forest fires.

Last month, a major flood in Gorontalo regency, Gorontalo province, hit more than a thousand houses, including Dunda Limboto Hospital, forcing the hospital's management to move 80 patients to emergency shelters.

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Thursday that the agency had yet to calculate the potential losses inflicted by the recent disasters. “We have only calculated the losses caused by flood in Garut, West Java, which amounted to Rp 288 billion [US$ 21.58 million],” he said, referring to a flood in the regency that reportedly killed 15 people.

Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) spokesperson Harry Tirto said on Thursday that more flooding could occur, as the rainy season was predicted to continue until May next year.

“This needs to be anticipated; water management and the use of land should be reviewed. Rivers might need to be revitalized and more biospheres need to be planted,” he said. (fac)