Floods claim lives, submerge homes across the archipelago
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Flooding in a number of regions across the country has intensified as heavy downpours continue to exacerbate the problem.
In South Sulawesi, floods are reported to have claimed at least five lives, three in Gowa regency and one each in Pangkajene Islands regency and Jeneponto regency according to the local chapter of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas).
As of Sunday, floods in the province were reported to have inundated nine regencies and municipalities in the province, submerging tens of thousands of houses and public facilities in waters up to two meters deep. As floodwaters rose, they also washed away fish farmers’ stocks.
“We are still evaluating the exact number of affected houses and damaged properties,” South Sulawesi Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Mappagio said on Sunday.
The nine affected regions are Barru, Gowa, Jeneponto, Makassar, Maros, Pangkep, Pare-pare, Soppeng and Takalar.
BPBD, with the support of other institutions including the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and a joint Search and Rescue (SAR) team, has evacuated affected people, erected temporary shelters and healthcare posts and distributed relief supplies.
South Sulawesi Deputy Governor Agus Arifin Nu’mang said that if heavy rains continued, the provincial administration planned to coordinate with the Navy to evacuate affected people in remote areas that were beyond the reach of the SAR team.
Indonesian Red Cross (PMI)chairman Jusuf Kalla, who was forced to inspect the affected region from a helicopter as landslides and flooding blocked road access, said that the PMI would continue to provide aid to affected people but would not do so with cash.
During the visit, Kalla handed over four rubber craft to help evacuate affected people and instructed the local PMI chapter to utilize all the equipment and logistics stored in its warehouse to help the affected people.
Heavy rains have pounded South Sulawesi since Jan. 1. The local office of the Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) noted that the rainfall level in the region was still over 100 millimeters per second.
The heavy downpours have caused a number of rivers in the region to overflow. As of Sunday, heavy rains still battered Makassar and the surrounding area.
In Surakarta, Central Java, some 700 families along the banks of the Bengawan Solo River were forced to flee their homes early on Sunday morning. Floodwaters up to a meter high had inundated their houses as the river overflowed its banks due to continuous heavy rain over the region.
Affected areas included Sangkrah and Semanggi in Pasar Kliwon district and Kampung Sewu and Pucang Sawit in Jebres district.
The Bengawan Solo River’s water level as of Sunday morning was recorded at 9.7 meters and was categorized as being on red-alert status, having risen 3.2 meters above its normal level. It decreased to 9.04 meters later in the day but the alert status was maintained.
Floods also hit the Ngringo subdistrict of Central Java’s Karanganyar regency around midnight on Saturday, submerging dozens of houses and displacing over 200 people. Local BPBD chairman Aji Pratama Heru Kristanto said no fatalities were reported.
Surakarta’s neighboring regency of Sukoharjo was also hit by floods in which some 500 houses were submerged, displacing over 2,000 people.
On Friday, flooding also hit Medan Maimun district in Medan, North Sumatra, and submerged hundreds of houses in the region as the Deli River spilled its banks.
The head of the data and information division at the BMKG’s Medan office, Hendra Suwarta, said the Deli River overflowed because of rainwater from the mountainous areas in Deli Serdang and Karo regencies.
“Medan has to be cautious because the levels of rainfall over these mountainous regions are very high,” he said.
The same warning was also addressed to areas along the province’s western coast, including Central Tapanuli, Humbang Hasundutan, Mandailing Natal, Nias, Sibolga and South Tapanuli.
Apriadi Gunawan contributed to this story from Medan