Wed, 15 Jan 2003

1,200 people flee floods, seek emergency assistance

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As many as 1,200 people fled their homes on Tuesday for Bengkayang, West Kalimantan, after floods triggered by several days of heavy rain swept through the village of Sungai Bawung in Sungai Raya subdistrict.

Residents began leaving at midnight on Tuesday as floodwater rose to three meters in several areas, the Antara news agency reported.

Villagers took refuge at schools and a mosque located on Jl Pontianak-Singkawang, about three kilometers from the affected area.

Local residents said on Tuesday night that floodwaters had been rising since the rain started on Friday.

Displaced residents are seeking humanitarian assistance at the shelters as almost all of them had left their homes without bringing any clothes or housewares.

No public kitchen has been set up for the displaced, even though there are many children among them.

Najmi, a senior government official at Sungai Raya subdistrict administration, said floods had inundated at least 13 villages and that Bawung and Teresak were the hardest hit.

Other inundated villages include Sungai Duri, Sungai Jaga Atas, Sungai Pangkalan II, Rukmajaya, Sungai Keran and Karimunting.

Local resident Amir Dampil, 61, said the floods were the worst natural disaster to hit the Bengkayang district since 1971.

He said the floodwater had entered wooden homes built on posts one meter high.

Amir said the situation was worsened by rivers overflowing near the flooded areas as nearby Natuna sea was at high tide.

Floods and landslides are an annual occurrence in Indonesia, particular during the rainy season.

Last Friday, a landslide killed nine people in Panireman, a village in Pontianak, following a day of heavy rain in the area.

The nine fatalities were among the 12 who were buried when a small hill suddenly collapsed.

Earlier last month, 26 people died when a mudslide struck the Padusan hot springs in the Pacet resort of Mojokerto regency, East Java.

A man was killed on Monday night during a landslide that hit Parigi village in the South Sulawesi regency of Gowa, some 30 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital of Makassar, Antara reported.

Local residents said Nawir Daeng Nanring, 30, was buried alive while he was checking his plantation in the affected area.

Villagers managed to recover his body after digging for five hours.

Gowa Police detective chief Adj. Comr. Danial Lindang said on Tuesday that police and local residents were still searching for more possible victims after two people were reported missing by their families.

Danial cautioned villagers to stay on alert for more possible landslides. Rain has continued to fall in the village over the past few days.

Meanwhile, several construction workers used heavy equipment to clear soil and rocks after a landslide on Saturday blocked the road connecting Pekanbaru and Rengat through Taluk Kuantan in Riau.

A spokesman for the Kuantan Singingi administration, Azhardi, said another landslide had destroyed a house in Sawah village on Sunday.