State of emergency in 3 Sumatra provinces

An elderly woman being evacuated using a rubber boat during flooding at Ranah village, in Kampar, Riau province, on Wednesday. Two people drowned in the raging floods in the worst-hit district of Kampar.
An elderly woman being evacuated using a rubber boat during flooding at Ranah village, in Kampar, Riau province, on Wednesday. Two people drowned in the raging floods in the worst-hit district of Kampar.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Indonesia has declared a state of emergency in three provinces, after rain-triggered floods and landslides killed 43 people and forced more than 100,000 to flee their homes across the country.

The provinces of Riau, West Sumatra and Bangka Belitung declared an emergency after a week-long rain spell left thousands of homes flooded and prompted mass evacuations of thousands of residents, Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nughoro told The Straits Times .

He said many provinces have been on high alert since the rainy season started in November, with more announcements expected.

"The rainy season is an annual affair in Indonesia so while we remain cautious and alert, there's no need to panic," he said.

"We have enough logistics and manpower to help those affected by the floods and landslides."

In Riau, on Sumatra island, some 40,000 residents were evacuated after continuous torrential downpour and floods from swelling rivers since Sunday left homes submerged in metre-deep waters, the provincial disaster management chief Edwar Sanger told The Straits Times.

Two people had also drowned in the raging floods in the worst-hit district of Kampar, he added. "This is the worst rainy season we have experienced in 30 years," he said.

In Bangka Belitung, a cluster of islands off the east coast of Sumatra, five days of pounding rain had killed a person, inundated 3,112 houses and forced more than 2,300 residents to seek shelter at schools and relatives' homes.

Between Feb 1 and 8, 103 districts and cities across the country were affected by floods and 63 others experienced landslides, Mr Sutopo said.

The worst landslide triggered by rains and unstable soil conditions in Purworejo district in Central Java last Friday claimed seven lives and buried three houses, Mr Sanger said.

The agency has allocated 150 billion rupiah (S$15.5 million) to respond to the crisis, providing shelter as well as food and other essentials.

Arlina Arshad

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2016, with the headline 'State of emergency in 3 Sumatra provinces'. Print Edition | Subscribe