Indonesia warns early rainy season may trigger more natural disasters

A child pushes his bike through floodwaters following heavy rain at a residential area of Ajun on the outskirts of Banda Aceh on Aug 11, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia may experience more natural disasters in the coming months as the country's annual rainy season is expected to start earlier and be more severe this year, the country's meteorological agency, BMKG, said on Thursday (Aug 26).

Indonesia's rainy season is expected to begin a month earlier than usual in September.

"BMKG urges local governments and the public to be aware, anticipate and take early mitigation actions to avoid and reduce disaster risks," it said in a statement, adding that the peak of the rainy season will occur in January and February next year.

Disasters linked to the weather conditions could include hail, lightning and tornadoes, it said, noting heavier rainfall was expected in many parts of the archipelago including in Java and Sulawesi, as well as part of Sumatra, Papua and Borneo.

Indonesia is prone to floods, landslides and sometimes cyclones during the rainy season.

In April, the country experienced Tropical Cyclone Seroja, one of the most powerful cyclones ever to hit Indonesia, which killed 163 people.

Parts of the capital Jakarta also regularly suffer serious floods during heavy rain. BMKG said, however, that farming communities should use the time to increase planting areas and collect rainwater to use in next year's dry season.

Indonesia is the world's top producer of palm oil, which is found in many consumer goods like packaged foods and cosmetics.

"This climate will support production. Maybe infrastructure needs extra handling, so that transportation of fresh fruit bunches to the mills is not hampered," Mr Joko Supriyono, chairman of the Indonesia Palm Oil Association, said.

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