Indonesia: Storm kills 2, damages thousands of houses

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Agus Maryono, Slamet Susanto and Suherdjoko , The Jakarta Post , Banyumas/Yogyakarta/Kudus | Mon, 01/18/2010 10:53 AM | The Archipelago

A couple were killed by a falling tree and thousands of houses were destroyed or damaged in Banyumas, Central Java, when the area was hit by strong winds on Sunday.

Strong winds also uprooted hundreds of trees and felled power lines in affected areas across Banyumas regency. "[The winds struck] at around 4:30 p.m. It was so frightening. Many houses were damaged or collapsed," said Samingun, the 50-year-old chief of Karangcegak village, Banyumas.

In Karangacek alone, around 400 houses were damaged, and 20 more had collapsed, he said.

Agus Nurhadi, a spokesman for Banyumas administration, said the winds had affected almost all districts in the regency. "The worst-hit districts were Sumbang, Baturraden, North Purwokertoa, Cilongok and Wangon, where many houses were flattened," he said.

In Yogyakarta, the rainy season that began to intensify early this month has significantly increased the number of dengue fever cases in Bantul, and led to floods in a number of regencies in Central Java.

RSUD Panembahan Senopati hospital in Bantul reported it had received two cases of dengue fever every week in January.

"Entering the third week of January, the number of patients admitted here has increased by six," Panembahan services deputy director Gandung Bambang Hermanto said Sunday.

Stagnant water after the rain and unhealthy lifestyles were the main causes of the increase, he said.

A total of 15 dengue fever patients had been treated at the hospital. This was expected to continue to increase, especially since the rains were expected to intensify further in February, he said.

Bantul recorded 419 cases of dengue fever in 2008, and four of these resulted in fatalities. Last year the figure increased to 615, including two deaths.

Separately, in Kudus heavy downpours for the last few days have caused the Dawe River to overflow, inundating Mejobo subdistrict in floodwaters up to 40 centimeters deep.

Mejobo subdistrict secretary Pramono said the region had been affected by the floods since Thursday and had submerged houses as well as hundreds of hectares of rice paddies in Mejobo, Jojo, Temulus, Kesambi and Kirig subdistricts.

Kudus regency administration community protection chief Atok Darmobroto said his office had prepared public facilities, including a warehouse in Setrokalangan, to serve as refugee camps in case flood victims needed shelter.

Floodwaters have also affected several villages in Pati regency from the overflowing Juwana River.

The bad weather reportedly also caused Prince Capricorn I barge, loaded with 5,000 tons of cooking oil, to run aground at Ombak Mati Beach in Jepara regency, on Thursday. None of the ship's crew and captain were hurt in the incident.