Thu, 04 Dec 2003

Flooding spreads in Kampar regency

The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru, Riau

Flooding, triggered by days of heavy rain, is spreading in Kampar regency, Riau province, with thousands of houses and a number of schools already inundated, local officials said on Wednesday.

No casualties or injuries were reported, however.

The floods hit five villages -- Tanjung Balam, Buluh Cina, Kampung Pinang, Lubuk Siam and Teratak Buluh, all in Siak Hulu subdistrict -- after the Kampar river burst its banks.

The floodwaters reached up to one meter in the affected villages, all located near the river.

At least four elementary schools in the subdistrict were also inundated, forcing their principals to send students home on Monday. The schools have been closed since then.

"Due to heavy rain, the Kampar river overflowed and the floodwaters have been inundating five villages since Nov. 30. The level of water has drastically risen over the past three days," Siak Hulu subdistrict head Andiar told The Jakarta Post.

He said a report he had received showed that around 1,420 houses were affected -- 305 houses in Tanjung Balam, 365 in Lubuk Siam, 350 in Kampung Pinang and 400 in Buluh Cina.

The floods had also inundated houses and other buildings in seven villages in Tambang subdistrict, Kampar. There were no information available on the number of buildings affected.

Kampar administration spokesman Subirman said his subdistrict would soon set up a command post to handle the disaster, as it was believed the floodwaters would continue to rise.

"Several villages -- Buluh Cina, Taratak Buluh, Danau Bingkuang and Rumbia -- are highly prone to flooding. We are worried that the floods could worsen if the rain continues falling in upstream areas in (neighboring) West Sumatra," Subirman said.

On Nov. 2, a flash flood devastated a resort town in Bahorok subdistrict in North Sumatra, leaving more than 150 people dead and 100 others missing.

Deforestation is frequently blamed for the floods the occur regularly across the country.