Deluge of misery in China, Indonesia

Part of a road is flooded in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, on Sunday. Storms pushed water levels in rivers to dangerous levels, leading to crop damage and the collapse of 10,500 houses, Xinhua news agency reported.
Part of a road is flooded in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, on Sunday. Storms pushed water levels in rivers to dangerous levels, leading to crop damage and the collapse of 10,500 houses, Xinhua news agency reported.PHOTO: REUTERS

Parts of Indonesia and China were battered by heavy rain over the weekend, triggering floods and landslides which have left scores dead. Officials blamed the extremely foul weather on the aftermath of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

BEIJING • Severe floods in southern China have killed at least 22 people and left 20 missing since Saturday, the government said, with the rains expected to continue for the next three days.

About 200,000 people from eight southern provinces and regions, including Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Zhejiang and Anhui, had been forced to evacuate, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on its website.

Storms had pushed water levels in rivers to dangerous levels, leading to crop damage and the collapse of 10,500 houses, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Economic losses are estimated at 7.34 billion yuan (S$1.5 billion), it said.

The meteorological authority yesterday issued a yellow alert for heavy rain in southern China in the next 24 hours.

China has a four-tier, colour-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Three days of heavy rain last week had already killed 14 people, Xinhua said last Friday. China has frequently been devastated by natural disasters, particularly by floods and earthquakes.

Flooding, an annual problem, has been exacerbated by urban sprawl and poor drainage infrastructure in many cities.

Chinese officials had warned of the potential for record floods this year due to a strong El Nino weather pattern, which warms sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific and has been linked to serious crop damage, forest fires and flash flood and drought around the world.

Officials have detailed the mayhem caused by the rains.

In China's Chongqing municipality, five people died after heavy rains resulted in rivers bursting their banks and flash floods. In neighbouring Sichuan province, four people died on Sunday after heavy rain and the ensuing landslides caused their houses to collapse.

Yongning River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, saw its biggest flood in 80 years, with the water rising 1.43m above the safety line.

In Guizhou province, rescuers are trying to extract eight trapped miners from a coal mine shaft, which was flooded after torrential rain on Sunday.

South China's Hunan province estimates that direct economic losses are in the region of 73 million yuan.

REUTERS, XINHUA


Rescuers race to reach victims of landslides and flooding


Rescue teams searching for victims of a landslide in Purworejo, Central Java. The national disaster mitigation agency has warned people in the province of the threat of more floods and landslides. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

JAKARTA • The Indonesian authorities were racing yesterday to rescue victims of landslides and flash floods caused by torrential rain at the weekend that killed nearly 50 people and left 15 missing on the main island of Java.

Search and rescue teams were using earth movers and bulldozers to clear debris in several locations in Central Java province after heavy rain damaged thousands of homes and forced residents to evacuate.

"Around 200 people... in joint teams from the military, police, NGOs and volunteers are continuing to search for victims," Mr Sutopo Nugroho, a spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

He added that 47 people had died and 15 remained missing.

The authorities said that the affected area in Java, which is the most densely populated island in the country, was particularly prone to landslides.

About 16 districts and towns were affected by the floods and landslides including Purworejo, Banjarnegara, Kendal and Sragen.

"The public is advised to remain on high alert for heavy rain and potential for floods and landslides," Mr Nugroho said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said the authorities were looking at evacuation plans for residents who could be threatened by further landslides, the website of Elshinta radio reported yesterday.

About 16 districts and towns were affected by the floods and landslides, including Purworejo, Banjarnegara, Kendal and Sragen.

In Kebuen district, a landslide on Saturday in the village of Dukuh Pohkumbang buried three houses and destroyed two more, with six people left missing, the Antara news agency reported.

Rescuers were digging through the mud to look for survivors.

Officials say rescuers at times have had to walk for several kilometres to reach the inundated villages as roads to the sites were cut off by landslides.

The lack of access also means rescuers cannot haul in heavy equipment to clear the debris.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline '200,000 people in the south evacuated'. Print Edition | Subscribe