Floods in Indonesia leave 2 dead, 6 missing

Torrential rain causes 'world's dirtiest river' to burst its banks, leading to flash floods

Residents making their way via horse cart along a flooded road in a Bandung village on Thursday as rain hammered West Java.
Residents making their way via horse cart along a flooded road in a Bandung village on Thursday as rain hammered West Java. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BANDUNG (Java) • At least two people were killed and six more were missing after torrential rains and severe flooding hit parts of Indonesia, the country's disaster agency said yesterday.

Heavy rain has pounded Indonesia for days, causing the Citarum River in Java - dubbed "the world's dirtiest" - to burst its banks, leading to deadly flash floods in the eastern part of the sprawling South-east Asian archipelago.

Residents in a dozen communities on the outskirts of Bandung city, east of the capital Jakarta, have been forced to wade through streets filled with chest-high water in places.

The Bandung Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said rain that had started on Wednesday had caused floods of almost 3m in some areas.

More than 22,000 families in 10 districts of Bandung, West Java, have been affected by the overflowing water from the Citarum River.

But the head of the BPBD's emergency and logistics division, Mr Sudrajat, said only hundreds of people have chosen to evacuate as a result of the severe flooding.

Images from the area showed residents being moved to safety on pontoon boats and small wooden boats.

Floods and landslides also killed two residents in East Nusa Tenggara province on the island of Flores, the agency said.

Six others are still missing and three people were injured, said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Flooding is common during Indonesia's rainy season, which runs roughly from October to April.

In January, at least 70 people were killed when floods and landslides hit South Sulawesi province.

The latest floods have affected over 30,000 people in parts of West Java and East Java provinces, the disaster agency said.

The Citarum - a nearly 300km water body that is a key source of hydroelectric power for Indonesia's most populous island Java and tourism hot spot Bali - regularly bursts its banks during torrential rains.

The World Bank declared it the most polluted river in the world a decade ago, a description widely picked up by the media and environmentalists.

Faced with a public health emergency after decades of failed clean-up efforts, the Indonesian government last year stepped in with a bold plan to make the Citarum's toxic waters drinkable by 2025.

The river has long been a floating carpet of household rubbish, animal faeces and toxic chemicals dumped by nearby factories.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline Floods in Indonesia leave 2 dead, 6 missing. Subscribe