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Indonesian Sumatran provinces hit by catastrophic floods
Latest Updated by 2006-12-26 08:56:35
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Over 100 lives have been claimed and 110,000 others forced to evacuate by one of the worst floods hitting dozens of districts in Indonesia's North Sumatra and Aceh provinces in the past three days while the Acehnesses were preparing for second anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The flash floods, which came at the rainy season after a five-month drought in most of the country, has brought grave casualties and heavy losses to the affected areas.

According to local reports, in the past three days at least 123 people were killed in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces. The floods also hit Riau, West Sumatra and West Kalimantan.

At least six districts in Aceh were hit by the floods, killing at least 114 people, two were missing and 70,000 others were forced to evacuate, official Antara news agency reported.

Aceh was the region worst hit by the 2004 tsunami in which about 160,000 people were killed, but this week's flooding unaffected the area.

Head of Aceh Social Affairs Office Ridwan Sulaiman said that the areas affected by the floods covered 43 sub-districts, of which 12 were located in Aceh Tamiang district, five in East Aceh, 16 in North Aceh, three in Bireuen, five in Gavo Lues and two in Bener Mariah.

In Bener Meriah district, the floods were followed by landslides. As a result, hundreds of houses and a number of bridges were knocked down.

Meanwhile, Langkat district in North Sumatra province was also affected by floods. Until Sunday, the death toll of Langkat floods rose to nine and six others were still missing. About 10 dead victims were also found in Besitang subdistrict, Stabat and Hinaiin the province.

On Sunday, 43,401 locals comprising 58,532 families were evacuated and were accommodated at a number of makeshift tents.

Refugees in the tents began to suffer from various diseases while medical supplies were inadequate, the local reports said, adding that at least 730 suffered from diarrhea, 1,500 from respiratory infection, 2,780 others had flu and itches.

Incessant rains in North Sumatra's neighboring province of Riau triggered floods which submerged farmland in six districts. The height of the floods in some parts of the area reached three meters.

"The alert status has been upgraded from first to second level due to the floods which were getting worse," Wan Darlis Ilyas of the Riau provincial administration was quoted by Antara as saying.

In West Sumatra, floods inundated residential areas in Arau subdistrict, Lima Puluh Kota district. "The floods reach up to one meter high in residential areas," said chief of the local police precinct Snr Comnr Yoyok SN. But no human casualties were reported.

Rains triggered floods and landslides also in Batam. The floods inundated industrial and settlement areas. Some 500 families from Kampung Aceh (settlement of Acehnese) opposite the Batamindo Industrial zone, Mukakuning, had evacuated to safer areas.

In Kampung Berlian, Batam Center, about 200 houses were inundated with the flood water reaching up to 2 meters, and an electric pole collapsed.

In West Kalimantan, heavy downpours and high tides caused flooding of the provincial capital Pontianak, with the flood waters reaching a height of up to 50 centimeters.

The Kapuas river overflowed as the downpours continued to fall in Sintang District, Giri Darmoko of the Pontianak meteorology and geophysics office said.

As the floods were spreading to wider areas in the whole country, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on the regional governments of Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau and West Sumatra provinces to give priority to searching for the missing victims of floods in their respective areas.

The central government rushed tents, food and other emergency aid to flood-ravaged parts of Sumatra island Monday while the United Nations pledged 2 million U.S. dollars for the survivors.

The government sent 20 tons of humanitarian aid for flood and landslide victims in North Sumatra and Aceh provinces. The aid consisting of food stuff, clothes, blankets, tents, rubber boats, mats, kitchen utensils and toddler wares were transported using a C-30 Hercules plane from Halim Perdanakusuma Airbase in Jakarta.

The Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) is launching intensive humanitarian operations in Sumatra island by dispatching 1,000 personnel to Aceh and North Sumatra. TNI headquarters information center head Commodore Mohammad Sunarto Sjoekronoputro said the military also sent heavy equipment, kitchen utensils and two helicopters as well as built field hospitals.

Health authorities have also sent hundreds of medical workers to flood-hit areas in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh. "The medical workers divided into several teams were dispatched to the affected areas on Sunday to anticipate various flood-related diseases," head of the Aceh provincial health service dr HT Anjar Asmara said on Monday.

Editor: Donald

By: Zhao Jinchuan Source: China View website
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