Indonesia: Floods, winds cause havoc in several areas

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Jon Afrizal and Wahyoe Boediwardhana , The Jakarta Post , Jambi/Situbondo

Some parts of Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi were engulfed by floods and whirlwinds Thursday, causing destruction in the affected areas.

In Malang regency, East Java, a bridge on the main Malang-Kediri and Malang-Jombang highways collapsed after their supporting pillars were swept away by the bloating Konto River in Ngeprih hamlet, Bendosari village, Pujon district in Malang, on Wednesday night.

As a result, traffic from Malang to Kediri and Jombang had to be rerouted dozens of kilometers through either Blitar or Surabaya.

Pujon district chief Hablul Matin said the support pillars of the bridge, built in 1970, had collapsed after being pounded by the swelling Konto River due to heavy rains from Wednesday until Thursday morning.

"The bridge is highly vital for motorists as it cuts the distance from Malang to Kediri or Jombang by up to around 80 kilometers."

Head of the technical department of the East Java Public Works Office Pitoyo Wasis said Thursday the pillars of the bridge had sunk by 50 centimeters.

In Situbondo, East Java, seven districts were engulfed by floods originating from the Argopuro mountain slopes after heavy rains poured over the regency since Wednesday afternoon until midnight.

Two bridges, each in Curah Suri village, Jatibanteng district and Sumberanyar village, Mlandingan district, and river embankments were damaged by the floods.

In Jambi, a number of schools in Sekernan district in Muarojambi regency, were forced to suspend their schooling activities after the Batanghari River burst its banks and swamped the area.

Elementary school students have to wade in water as high as an adult's knee to get to their classrooms.

A number of students said they refused to study because they did not feel comfortable. Besides being wet, they said their feet also felt itchy.

The principal of SD 118 state elementary school in Pematang Pulai village, Kemas Hasan, said he had to use a boat to get to the classroom.

He said he would put first and second graders on leave for two days as the flood level had risen and no longer safe to them, while the others would remain in school as usual.

There was a similar situation at the SD 50 state elementary school in Berembang village, where two classrooms could no longer be used.

During recess, a number of students splashed around in the floodwater.

School principal Sahrul said the flooding had not disrupted activities, adding that students only faced difficulties to get to the library due to the depth of the water.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, at least 70 houses were damaged after being hit by whirlwinds in two districts - Ujung Tanah and Tallo.

"It was like thunder and it lasted only for three minutes. We then became aware that it was a whirlwind," said Zainuddin, the Pattingaloang village head in Ujung Tanah.

Besides the whirlwind, floods have also submerged some areas, including public facilities and farmland, in Makassar.

"Today, flooding and whirlwinds have damaged tens of houses," said Hakim Syahrani of the Makassar disaster mitigation coordinating board.

"The residents whose houses were inundated have to be evacuated."

Luthfiana Mahmudah and Andi Hajramurni contributed to this story from Jember and makassar