Death Toll From North Sulawesi Flooding, Landslides Tops 18, as Heavy Rains Wreak Havoc Throughout Indonesia

ndonesian Red Cross officials help residents of Manado evacuate from a flood-hit neighborhood. (EPA Photo/Imank)

Indonesian Red Cross officials help residents of Manado evacuate from a flood-hit neighborhood. (EPA Photo/Imank)

At least 18 people are confirmed to have died and more remain missing and feared dead following flash floods and landslides in North Sulawesi last week, officials say.

“Up to this point, there are 18 people dead, two missing… and thousands of people displaced,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said on Friday.

Six people were confirmed dead and one missing in the city of Manado, with another six dead in Minahasa district. Five were confirmed dead and one missing in the city of Tomohon, while one person was killed in North Minahasa district.

“The search for the missing victims is still proceeding,” Sutopo said. “In the meantime, in drier places residents have begun cleaning up their houses.”

On Thursday, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri declared a state of emergency in the province.

Sutopo said the BNPB and the provincial government were coordinating the disaster mitigation efforts, including sending relief supplies on board military aircraft.

The BNPB said it would devote Rp 3.13 billion ($260,000) for the flood relief efforts in the region.

Salim said his ministry would allocated Rp 5 billion for the efforts.

North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang said on Saturday that the floods and landslides had displaced more than 80,000 people, and put the cost of the disaster at an estimated Rp 1.87 trillion.

“The floods have destroyed homes, vehicles, public facilities and infrastructure for clean water, electricity and communications,” he said as quoted by Kompas.

The governor blamed the heavy rainfall for the flood, saying the relentless downpours had forced local rivers to overflow.

Officials have said they plan to build infrastructure in the region to prevent flooding on the scale seen this year.

This includes Kuwil Kawangkuan reservoir, which is expected to be able to hold 23 million cubic of water, to prevent flooding in Manado in particular and North Sulawesi in general.

Construction of the reservoir, expected to cost Rp 1 trillion, is expected to commence next year.

Deputy Public Works Minister Hermanto Dardak said in Jakarta that the government had finished the engineering design for the reservoir.

“This year we will deal with the certification process and start the land acquisition. We have set aside Rp 2.8 billion to acquire the land and Rp 700 million for the certification process,” he said.

Hermanto said the ministry would also begin constructing an elevated embankment around Lake Tondano in Manado to prevent future flooding.

“Starting this year, we will build a higher embankment around the lake, about one meter tall,” he said. “We hope it will increase the lake’s water capacity.”

The ministry, Hermanto said, would also build a flood gate to control water volume.

“We have set aside a budget of Rp 72 billion,” he said.

Hermanto said part of the problem was that the capacity of rivers in Manado had been severely reduced as a result of sedimentation and illegal dwellings built along the riverbanks. He said the Public Works Ministry would soon kick off a project to dredge the rivers and widen them.

“We have allocated Ro 156 billion for that,” Hermanto said.

He also the ministry had identified 32 stretches of roads and bridges that were hit by landslides in and around Manado.

“We’ve managed to clean up some of the areas affected by landslides and those roads are passable again,” he said.

He added that two bridges that sustained damage from the landslides needed to be fixed immediately.

Separately, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto said part of the blame for the severity of the flooding should go to what he called “irresponsible parties” clearing the vegetation on the hills around Manado. This, he said, served to amplify the mudslides.

Djoko gave reassurances that the damage to infrastructure as a result of the disaster was not very significant and could be easily fixed.

Floods also affected other parts of Indonesia, including Subang district in West Java, where thousands of houses in 11 subdistricts were inundated after the Cigandung and Ciasem rivers overflowed following torrential rain over the past week.

The flooding cut off part of the main highway between Jakarta and Cirebon.

In Semarang, Central Java, heavy rains triggered floods that also affected neighboring Pekalongan, Batang and Kendal districts, with some areas inundated in up to a meter of water.

In Yogyakarta, two people died on Sunday when they were swept away in a mudslide in the Gendol River.

The men, identified as sand quarriers Suhartono and Edi, were digging in the area when a torrent of lahar, a mix of volcanic ash washed down by heavy rains, swept down the river bed.

Officials said they had flouted a prohibition on quarrying in the area. The Jakarta Globe

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