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Jakarta Post

South Sulawesi floods leaves homes cut off, at least one dead

  • Andi Hajramurni

    The Jakarta Post

Makassar   /   Mon, January 13, 2020   /   01:43 pm
South Sulawesi floods leaves homes cut off, at least one dead A motorcyclist drives through a flooded road on Jan. 22, 2019 in Makassar, South Sulawesi. (Antara/Sahrul Manda Tikupadang)

Heavy rain over the weekend has caused flooding in four regencies and one municipality in South Sulawesi, with at least one fatality. 

The disaster comes less than two weeks after the widespread flooding that hit Greater Jakarta and Banten on New Year's Day.

The five affected regions are Parepare city and the regencies of Barru, Soppeng, Pinrang, and Sidenreng Rappang. 

According to the latest data from the South Sulawesi Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), hundreds of houses and dozens of public facilities and government offices have been inundated. 

"The height of the water is still fluctuating," South Sulawesi BPBD head Nimal Lahamang said on Sunday. "But in certain locations, particularly those five regions, the water has reached one to two meters and flooded hundreds of houses."

He said that no residents were displaced by the disaster, as most of the affected homes were rumah panggung, or traditional stilt houses.

"We are ready. Equipment like boats for evacuating residents, public kitchens and evacuation posts have been prepared. BPBDs in the regencies and the city went out to the field early to warn the public," Nimal added.

Nevertheless, the disaster has claimed at least one victim, identified as 65-year-old Sinar, a resident of Soppeng resident who allegedly slipped and fell into the floodwater and was carried away by the current.

According to the information The Jakarta Post received on Sunday, Barru and Sidenreng Rappang were worst hit, with floodwaters reaching an average height of more than 1 meter.

Barru BPBD disaster preparedness head Abdul Muhaemin said that five out of seven districts in the regency were flooded and that one village, Balusu, and its 121 families had been isolated by floodwaters 2 meters high.

"Luckily, most of the houses there are rumah panggung," Muhaemin said, "but two families have asked to be evacuated because their houses are at risk of collapsing."

He added that while the floodwater was less than 50 centimeters in several locations, the current was very strong and it had cut off connecting roads to  several villages in the regency.

The section of the Trans-Sulawesi Highway that passed through Barru was also flooded, slowing down traffic.

Hanafi Hamzah, the data and information head of the Makassar Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said that the flooding was caused by the "extreme rainfall" that occurred in the region on Saturday and Sunday.

"The public should be vigilant up to Jan. 15," he added, pointing out that strong winds and falling trees had damaged hundreds of houses in several regencies. 

Hanafi said that wind speeds reached 30 to 40 kilometers per hour and formed puting beliung (waterspouts), as well as caused coastal waves off Makassar to rise and reach up to 2 meters in height. (kmt)