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Jakarta Post

Bandung residents cling on roofs amid deadly deluge from dam burst

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Mon, February 11, 2019   /   10:46 am
Bandung residents cling on roofs amid deadly deluge from dam burst Water starts to recede in the Jati Endah Regency housing complex in Bandung, West Java, on Sunday after a flash flood hit the area on Saturday night, killing three residents. (Antara/Raisan Al Farisi)

Chandra Kristianto, 41, has never witnessed a flood like the one on Saturday night in the eight years he has lived in Jatiendah, Bandung, West Java.

The housing complex where he resides with his family, Jati Endah Regency, was ravaged by a flash flood after a dam on the nearby Cipanjalu River crumbled during a downpour that night, killing three while destroying almost all the houses in the compound.     

Chandra said the water started to surge his house terrace at 10 p.m. and he tried to block the water by stacking potted plants at its entrance. But the current only got stronger.

As the flood started to inundate the house, Chandra, his wife and his two children climbed onto the roof, like many of their neighbors.

“No one dared to go out of their houses because the current was too strong,” Chandra said.

The water eventually broke through and demolished two houses adjacent to Chandra’s house, leaving only its foundations and dragging a car that had been hit by falling bricks.

When the flood receded and The Jakarta Post observed the location on Sunday, only one out of 11 houses at Block B, the section where Chandra lives, was still standing. The block is located at the lowest terrain of the housing complex, and the water from the river ended up flooding the area after the dam broke.  

Agus Budiyanto, the landslide mitigation head at the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG), said the flood was caused by a large water debit that outsized the river’s channel.

“The width of the river is less than 2 meters and there is a wall [from a nearby bridge] that blocks the waterway. Therefore, the water diverted intensely toward the housing complex,” Alex said.

He added that the large water volume carrying materials like mud and trash then continued to flood the area until it had reached its lowest point.

“The two houses [adjacent to Chandra’s house] that were completely demolished were the area’s lowest point and the flood’s exit. So, the collision at that point must have been strong,” Agus said.

To avoid future burst, Agus recommended reinforcing the dam down to its bedrock and further strengthen it with triangular support that can withstand strong currents.

Bandung Search and Rescue Team spokesperson Joshua Banjarnahor said eight people had been carried away during the Jatiendah flood. The three victims that were found dead were Phida, 40, who was found holding her son Raifan, 1, and Hani, 25.

A similar flood also struck Bandung’s Dago area, killing a resident and carrying him 3 kilometers away from his initial location to a sewer in Sidomukti, East Java. The victim was identified as an app-based motorcycle taxi driver.

“The SAR team has been coordinating with the local police department to acquire results from Inafis [Indonesia Automatic Fingerprint Identification System] for the victim’s identification," Joshua said. (mai)