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Jakarta Post

Despite wet season, South Sumatra extends forest fire alert status until end of November

  • Yulia Savitri

    The Jakarta Post

Palembang   /   Thu, October 22, 2020   /   05:22 pm
Despite wet season, South Sumatra extends forest fire alert status until end of November This picture taken on Sept. 23, 2019, shows Indonesian firefighters battling a peatland forest fire in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra. (AFP/Abdul Qodir)

South Sumatra has extended the alert status for forest fires until the end of November despite the high intensity rainfall that the region has experienced since the start of the rainy season.

Elbaroma, the prevention and preparedness unit head at the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD South Sumatra), said the provincial administration followed the Environment and Forestry Ministry's instruction to remain cautious even after rainfall.

“We are still under the alert status until Nov. 30,” Elbaroma said on Tuesday. 

Four regencies in the province have been hit by forest fires during the dry season this year, namely Ogan Ilir, Muba, Ogan Komering Ilir and Banyuasin.

A total of 258.4 hectares of land in South Sumatra were burned in 1,114 cases of forest fires that occurred from January to September, according to BPBD data.

“The dry season this year was short and appeared to be wetter than that of last year," Elbaroma said. "We are now still monitoring forest fires although we remain alert over La Nina possibly bringing floods and landslides."

Read also: Land, forest fires fact of life in seven provinces

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of potential hydrometeorological disasters in South Sumatra following heavy downpours throughout the rainy season.

Elbaroma said that the BPBD had already mapped the risk of such disasters in the province.

BMKG South Sumatra coordinator for the Palembang Climatology Station, Nuga Putrantijo, said that the land in the province was no longer dry after the region welcomed the wet season in October.

He said the intensity of downpours in the province had so far been affected by the La Nina – the periodic cooling of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that tends to cause extreme weather in the archipelago.

“High rainfall intensity is often followed by potential disasters such as floods and landslides," Nuga said.

"We should remain cautious and think about the mitigation measures, especially in shallow areas near river basin areas and high grounds in South Sumatra,” he said. 

The Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Meteorology Station in Palembang recorded that at least 313 floods, 70 landslides and 186 typhoons have occurred in South Sumatra this year. (dpk)