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Jakarta Post

Landslides kill two people, disrupt road access on Flores Island

  • Markus Makur

    The Jakarta Post

West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara/Jakarta   /   Fri, March 8, 2019   /   07:30 pm
Landslides kill two people, disrupt road access on Flores Island Residents walk through the site of a landslide in West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara, on Friday. (JP/Markus Makur)

Intensive rainfall over the past week has caused floods and landslides in villages across the island of Flores in East Nusa Tenggara. Two people have been found dead following a landslide in Roe village, West Manggarai, on Friday, while at least eight are missing, according to local authorities.

Landslides also disrupted traffic on the Ruteng-Labuan Bajo trans-Flores road in the regency.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the landslides had also destroyed a bridge, three houses and several vehicles in the impacted areas.

“The regional mitigation agencies are working with local authorities to evacuate the people,” Sutopo said on Friday.

He added that mobile phone communication in the affected areas was severely disrupted, making it difficult for the authorities to assess the impact of the disaster.

Manggarai Military Commander Lieut. Col. Rudy Markiano Simangunsong said the military and the regional mitigation agency were prioritizing the evacuation of survivors, despite challenges they are facing on the ground. 

“The electricity in some of the affected areas has already been shut down,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Rudy said the joint search and rescue team was still unable to approach certain areas for safety reasons.

"The ground in some areas is still unstable, potentially causing further landslides," he said.

Ori Patote, head of a working unit for national highways at the provincial public works agency, said the local administration had sent heavy equipment to the site of the broken bridge to clear it up.

“Traffic on the Ruteng-Labuan Bajo road is currently halted. Local authorities are handling the situation,” he said.

Beino Sardi Hao, a local farmer in the village of Ojang, said the floodwater had destroyed 5 hectares of paddy fields he was going to harvest in a few weeks.

“It has caused a lot of hardship for me and other farmers. This will certainly affect our income. We are hoping the regent will help us,” he told the Post.

Manggarai Regent Deno Kamelus said he had received all reports regarding the disaster in his regency.

“We are racking our brains to help the affected communities,” he said.

Last year, BNPB spokesman Sutopo said hydrometeorological disasters, such as flooding, landslides and puting beliung (small tornadoes), would remain the predominant types of disaster in the country this year as in 2018, when thousands of natural disasters occurred.

He said deforestation and damage to watersheds contributed to the increasing number of hydrometeorological disasters over the years. (das)