Mon, 14 Feb 2000

People blamed for Makassar flood

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi: An official denied on Sunday reports that claimed a burst dam was the cause of a flood here earlier this month.

Suprapto Budi, head of the Bili-bili dam management, said heavy rains and continuing deforestation downstream from Jeneberang River were the causes of the flood, the worst the area has seen. Five people died and hundreds were left stranded.

"People should not worry about the dam, moreover accuse it of causing the flood," Suprapto said. "There were heavy rains and many canals were clogged."

The head of the local Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, Edi Waluyo, said earlier that the river burst its banks after a heavy downpour on Feb. 4. Rainfall reached 391 millimeters this year, well above last year's 220 millimeters, according to Edi.

Tidal waters, which rose 40 centimeters, made things worse, he said.

Suprapto said erosion resulting from forest slashing activities near the river would reduce the dam's life span by 15 years from an expected 50 years.

He said the Japanese government had disbursed Rp 600 billion in aid to help the provincial administration regreen the area downstream of the river. (27)