The Jakarta Post, Tangerang Fri, January 11 2013,
A toll road was closed, four people reportedly died and dozens of families had to be evacuated in Banten on Thursday after days of heavy rains in the province, inundating at least four of its regencies.
The rains caused major rivers in the province — the Ciujung, the Cidurian, the Cilember and the Ciliman — to overflow, submerging 33 districts in Lebak, Pandeglang, Serang and Tangerang.
Suryadi Wiraatmaja, head of the Banten Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), said that flood water inundated at least 3,240 houses in seven districts in Serang and 6,060 other houses in 11 districts in Pandeglang. The flood inundated 1,053 houses in Lebak and 117 in Tangerang.
“Flood water has killed three residents in Lebak and another one in Pandeglang according to reports we received today,” he said.
The flood victims in Lebak regency were identified as Warsiti, 65, a resident of Talun, Penancangan village, Cibadak district; Dadang, 35, a resident of Kujang Sari village, Cibeber district; and Mustofa, 16, a resident of Sindangsari village, Sajira district. Another victim in Pandeglang regency was identified as Sari, 75. He said that landslides and strong winds had also hit both Lebak and Pandeglang when the flood came.
The flood victims were evacuated from their homes from Wednesday. Local authorities have established emergency posts and sent supplies and disaster mitigation officials to the flood-hit areas. Officials said they were still calculating the estimated losses caused by the disaster.
The flooding submerged the Jakarta-Merak turnpike between kilometer 57 and 59, forcing its operator, PT Mandala Marga Sakti, to close the road from Wednesday night. “As of now, the Tangerang-Merak turnpike is still closed and the water level that inundates part of the toll road at kilometer 58 reaches 150 centimeters,” the company’s spokesman, Rakhmatullah, told The Jakarta Post.
Tangerang regency traffic police deputy chief Insp. Darto said that 12 kilometer-long traffic congestion along Jl. Raya Serang was inevitable due to the closure.
Strong winds and extreme weather have reportedly hit a number of regions across the archipelago for the last few weeks.
In the Riau Islands, a whirlwind was reported to have hit Batam, Bintan, Tanjung Pinang and Natuna on Tuesday and Wednesday, destroying 234 houses, forcing people to flee their homes. Three people were seriously injured because of the whirlwind, one of whom, identified as M. Raihan, 10, was still in a coma.
The local office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) predicted strong winds of 30 to 35 kilometers per hour in speed, with thunder and lightning due to cumulus nimbus clouds continuing to hit the province until the end of this month.
“Those residing along the province’s coastal areas have to be especially cautious. Winds that strong are destructive,” BMKG head Philip Mustamu said.
Riau Islands provincial disaster mitigation agency (BPBD) head Munzir Purba said financial losses due to the strong winds were predicted to reach up to Rp 600 million (US$62,112). “Displaced people for
the time being are taking shelter at relatives’ houses. Emergency response aid will be provided by the respective regency or city administrations. We are just collecting data on the affected regions,” Purba told the Post.
In Yogyakarta, dozens of houses were damaged by falling trees due to strong winds that hit the province from Wednesday until Thursday.
Some of the trees fell onto electricity cables, causing temporary blackouts across Yogyakarta municipality and Bantul regency. Some blocked roads, causing long lines of vehicles at some road sections. A tree of some 60 centimeters in diameter fell on an artesian well installation belonging to the Bantul tap water company, causing financial losses of up to tens of millions of rupiah.
“Thanks to the damage we won’t be able to have a water supply for the next few days,” the company’s president director, Agung Darmadi, said on Thursday.
In other places, strong winds caused a tree to fall on a Toyota Avanza vehicle and a school building. Some trees damaged advertising boards along some road sections in the province. No fatalities had yet been reported.
As of Thursday, strong winds were still hitting the region. “I hope people are really cautious and understand this unpredictable climate. Old trees should be cut down,” Bantul BPBD head Dwi Daryanto said.
Forecaster Subandi of the BMKG’s Yogyakarta office said that the strong winds were due to the Narelle storm that hit the province’s southern coastal region at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour or about 35 to 40 knots.