BNPB Says Rain-Related Disasters Across Indonesia to Rise
SP/Usmin, SP/Radesman Saragih, SP/Noverisman Subing & SP/Sahat Oloan Saragih
Mudslides and floods across the country in the past two months killed at least 33 people and forced 35,000 to flee their homes, and authorities warn these figures could rise as the rainy season intensifies.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said on Tuesday that rain-related disasters were expected to continue until January.
He said the BNPB and its regional offices were already taking measures in anticipation of further floods and landslides, including in Jakarta.
He said the areas particularly vulnerable are those straddling the Bengawan Solo River in Central and East Java, as well as villages at the foot of Mount Merapi in Central Java and Yogyakarta. They are at risk of landslides from the millions of tons of ash deposits still sitting on the volcano’s slopes following its eruption in 2010.
Torrential rains have already caused massive flooding across much of Sumatra, inundating entire villages and thousands of hectares of farmland.
In Bengkulu’s Mukomuko district, flooding from rain-swollen rivers that burst their banks on Monday began receding on Tuesday, but many areas remain under a meter of water.
Yanzuri Nawawi, a spokesman for the district administration, said more than 200 hectares of oil palm plantations had been washed out, causing immense financial loss for farmers who were due to harvest their crops within the next few days.
He added that the authorities had sent enough relief supplies to the affected villages to last for three days.
“We hope that there won’t be any heavy rains in the area, so that the water level can continue falling and the people can return to their homes,” Yanzuri said.
In Jambi province, flash floods on Monday, forced 105 families from three villages in Merangin district from their homes. The flooding was caused by a river bursting its banks following heavy rains over the weekend.
Afrizal, head of the emergency response unit at the Merangin BPBD, said on Tuesday that three schools and a community health center were also flooded, but no casualties were reported.
He said flood waters in the three villages were up to 1.5 meters deep, but the full extent of the flooding is not known because not all the villages in the affected area have reported their status.
“The number of homes affected by the flood could still rise because we haven’t received any reports yet from all the affected areas,” Afrizal said.
“We’ve been working with the military since Monday evening helping residents in several villages.”
In Lampung, landslides on Sunday blocked off at least five sections of the main highway connecting the province to Bengkulu further north, while heavy river currents swept away a bridge in West Lampung district.
Mukhlis Basri, the district head, said on Monday evening that he was optimistic the transportation links would be restored soon. “West Lampung is indeed vulnerable to these kinds of things, which is why we anticipated them,” he said.
“We’re now working with private contractors to fix the road that is blocked off. This is a very strategic road so I hope we can have it back in operation soon.”
Mulyadi, head of the district public works office, said work to clear the road had been going on since Sunday night and was expected to wrap up late on Tuesday.
Muliyono, the West Lampung BPBD chairman, confirmed the road would be passable again by Tuesday night, saying that efforts to clear the mud and rocks from the affected sections were being carried out using machinery.
Heavy rains have also caused flooding across the sea in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, with much of the city inundated since Monday.
Water levels along the main streets of Jalan Ahmad Yani and Jalan Gajah Mada were up to 30 centimeters, with residents blaming the poor drainage network for the scale of the flooding.
“Every time it rains here for more than an hour, it’s guaranteed to flood,” said Gunawan, a resident of Jalan Ahmad Yani.
“That’s because the drains and gutters can’t handle the volume of rainwater runoff.”