Death toll from Indonesian floods, landslides rises to 47

JAKARTA: The death toll from floods and landslides that devastated Indonesia’s Central Java province over the weekend rose to 47 on Monday (Jun 20), according to Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Nugroho said 15 people were missing and that most victims are from the Puworejo district, on Java’s south coast.

Java, which should be entering the dry season, has been hit by torrential downpours in recent weeks. On Saturday, the rain lasted for about 10 hours, pouring across many parts of Central Java.

Search and rescue teams on the ground are focused on looking for those missing. BNPB said there are more than 200 personnel from the national search and rescue agency, the army, police and volunteers from the community.

An additional 250 personnel are expected to join the search operations which will continue until Friday.

Dr Sutopo said the disaster is being managed at a provincial level with support from the central government in terms of logistics, and funding.

He said that a La Nina weather system, that typically causes unseasonably heavy rains, could have contributed to the weekend disasters. Java, which should be entering the dry season, has been hit by torrential downpours in recent weeks.

“This June there’s still heavy rainfall which is causing floods and landslides,” Dr Sutopo said, warning La Nina was set to strengthen in the coming months and would increase the risk of disasters.

He added that search and rescue teams are facing difficulty as they have to be careful because the risk for subsequent landslides is high. He said the damage to properties could well be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On the question of relocating those affected by landslides, Dr Sutopo said: “We put them in low lying areas, there will be floods. We find some places in the mountains, they will be exposed to volcanic eruptions. We put them on the beach, there is danger of tsunami and earthquakes. So in this case, not all need to be relocated. Those who are living in landslide prone areas, we will reinforce the cliffs, and there will be socialization in the community.”

Local authorities have extended help to those whose homes are damaged by temporarily relocating them to another place. Families who have lost loved ones are also given compensation of at least US$150.

Floods and landslides are the most common natural disasters in Indonesia. There were more than 1,000 occurrences of floods and landslides killing more than 200 people so far this year.

It’s estimated that nearly 41 million people live in landslide prone areas in Indonesia.


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