Sat, 04 Jan 2003

Floods continue to hit provinces

Antara, Jakarta

Heavy downpours in a number of parts of the country this week have caused some rivers in Banten and Riau to overflow and inundate dozens of villages in both provinces.

Some 2,000 families from seven villages in Panimbang district, Pandeglang regency, Banten, have been forced to leave their houses due to the floods that have prevailed since Wednesday.

The submerged villages are Gombong, Pangkalan, Panimbang, Panimbang Jaya, Sobang, Bojen and Mekarsari. The flooding was the result of the heavy rains that caused the Ciliman, Soledengan and Cilatah rivers in the province to burst their banks.

No casualties were reported in the disaster, although the flood waters swept a resident, identified as Nurhasan, 26, some three kilometers on Thursday. Eventually, he was saved by rescue workers in cooperation with local people later in the day.

As of Friday, the flood level had receded to some 35 centimeters from the previous level of more than one meter.

Dedi Nulyadi, a non-commissioned officer of the Panimbang district police, said on Friday that the flooding had submerged some 2,000 homes, 565 hectares of paddy fields and 30 hectares of shrimp farms.

He predicted that up to 10,000 people in the regency were facing shortages of potable water as their wells had been inundated by the flood waters and contaminated by mud.

"Almost all wells have been contaminated by mud and it will take time to clean them out. Therefore, we will need a lot of water from other regions," he said.

The Panimbang Jaya village headman Ariman expressed the hope that the Pandeglang office of the state-run water utility (PDAM) could provide water for drinking and cooking.

"I am afraid the people will get stomachaches after consuming muddy and dirty water," he said.

Ariman added that people were still worried about further flooding as heavy rain was forecast to continue falling.

Previously, floods hit Labuan district on Dec. 25 and Cikeusik district on Dec. 27. The floods also cut the road from Panimbang to Sobang on Wednesday, leaving some vehicles submerged in the floodwaters.

Meanwhile in Riau province, flooding was still threatening villagers living near the Kampar river, with the water still reaching up to 2.5 meters high in the Pelalawan area on Friday.

The flooding has inundated some 700 homes, dozens of kiosks, and hundreds of hectares of plantations in Langgam district, said Langgam district head Zamhur.

"The floods also damaged six kilometers of road in the district."

The flooding has also inundated villages in the districts of Pasir Penyu and Rengat in Indragiri Hulu regency, while residents of Buluh Cina village in the regency were working hard to clean out their houses after the floodwaters receded on Friday.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, the port authorities have erected iron screens at the mouth of its eight water channels aimed at preventing the port from being thronged by rubbish.

However, residents living near the port blamed the screens for causing flooding in the surrounding areas.

The director of the local port authority, PT Pelindo IV, Wasis Subiakto, said on Friday that the company had always removed the rubbish trapped by the iron screens so that it would not impede the water flow from the residents' houses.