The National Disaster Mitigation Agency ( BNPB ) handed Rp 3.3 billion ( US$272,344.71 ) to the North Sulawesi administration to help speed up disaster relief efforts after massive flash floods and landslides hit several regions in the province, killing at least 16 people and temporarily displacing about 40,000.
'The financial aid has been given directly to North Sulawesi's governor [Sinyo Harry Sarundajang],' BNPB head Syamsul Maarif said at the State Palace on Thursday.
As of Thursday, the number of fatalities stood at 16, but the number could rise as search and rescue efforts had been being intensified, he added. A search for two villagers was still being carried out, Syamsul said.
Torrential rain over the past several days triggered massive landslides and flash floods on Wednesday, affecting six regencies and municipalities almost simultaneously, according to the BNPB.
More than 1,000 houses were flooded by overflowing rivers, forcing thousands to flee to shelters.
As the weather had improved, about 60 percent of displaced persons returned to their homes on Thursday, Syamsul said.
'Some areas were still isolated because landslides have blocked some vital roads. As a result, the distribution of logistics was hampered,' he said.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered the BNPB, as well as the local administration to boost efforts to help mitigate the disaster. 'The current weather has been predicted to last four months, so I hope we can be better-prepared. Anytime disaster strikes, we should be able to respond quickly and precisely,' he told a Cabinet meeting.
Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said the bad weather could contribute to an inflation rise. 'The government has been assessing the situation in order to determine necessary efforts to maintain the stability of staple food prices,' he said.
In Jakarta, flooding has receded and most evacuees have returned home, according to Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency ( BPBD ) management control head Basuki Rahmat.
Flooding in the capital has claimed four lives and temporarily displaced 5,547 people since Monday.
However, some evacuees have opted to remain at the shelters as their homes still need to be cleaned. As many as 1,135 residents affected by floods in Pengadegan, South Jakarta, for example, will remain at a number of shelters as they wait for floodwater to totally subside.
Rumors about a possible flash flood in Jakarta early on Thursday that circulated through text message and social media networks alerted many residents. The information turned out to be false, but Basuki reminded coastal area residents to be prepared for possible flooding in the coming days.
'The Meterology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency ( BMKG ) predict that there will be high tide during the full moon,' he said.
The Public Works Ministry will close part of Jl. TB Simatupang in South Jakarta to repair a part of the road that collapsed during flooding.
Ministry spokesperson Danis H Sumadilaga said in a press release that the ministry would replace drainage culverts and elevate the road by 1- meter to avoid runoff.
The ministry had earmarked Rp 2.5 billion for the roadwork, which would start by rebuilding the road's foundation. 'The work is estimated to be completed in 17 days,' he said.
During construction, traffic will be diverted to Jl. Jatipadang and turn into Jl. Ragunan Raya, which heads to the Pasar Minggu area.