More lives lost, houses swamped as floods worsen across Sumatra

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Apriadi Gunawan, Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Medan/Padang/Pekanbaru | Archipelago | Wed, February 10 2016, 4:10 PM

Floods continued to submerge cities and regencies across Sumatra on Tuesday, destroying public facilities and claiming two lives.

In Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra, two children were reportedly killed on Monday after being swept away by swift currents in Sunggal Kanan and Kutalimbaru villages.

“Two of my people were killed by the floods, one in Sunggal and the other in Kutalimbaru,” said Deli Serdang Regent Ashari Tambunan after visiting the family of victim Aqila Ardera in Sunggal Kanan on Tuesday.

The body of 2-year-old Aqila, daughter of Arianto and Putri Anggraini, was found in an irrigation canal on Jl. Setia Sama, Sunggal, on Monday afternoon. Aqila is believed to have slipped into the irrigation canal as she was playing outside her home after a downpour.

Ashari said he had instructed the local public works agency to restore public facilities, such as roads and irrigation canals, damaged by the heavy rains that have drenched the regency in recent days.

In Binjai city, also in North Sumatra, floods triggered by incessant rain damaged two bridges, severing traffic access between East Binjai and South Binjai districts.

Binjai Public Works Agency head Nanang said the bridges, one on Jl. Diponegoro and the other in the Pahlawan area, had been damaged during massive flooding on Monday.

“The damaged bridges in Binjai have forced residents to take other, more circuitous routes,” Nanang said.

Meanwhile, in West Sumatra, three regencies ravaged by floods and landslides, namely Limapuluh Kota, South Solok and Pasaman, have imposed a 14-day emergency period starting Monday.

West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) emergency and logistics division head R. Pagar Negara said floods and landslides had affected 10 of the province’s regencies and cities, but that the three named regencies had borne the brunt.

“Preliminary data show that floods have affected 2,272 families, or 33,319 people, whose homes have been swamped by up to 3 meters of water,” Pagar told the Post on Tuesday, adding that the joint search and rescue team was still searching for one person buried by a landslide in South Solok and another who was swept away by the Batang Maek River in Lima Puluh Kota.

Lima Puluh Kota BPBD head Nasriyanto said the river had gradually subsided as of Tuesday morning.

“Residents have cleaned their homes, but all their belongings have been swamped. Nothing’s back to normal yet; there have been power cuts since the floods began, and local people are also facing a clean-water shortage,” said Nasriyanto.

Relief aid from the regency and provincial administrations and the public had been slow to reach disaster locations, he added.

Nine of the 13 districts in Lima Puluh Kota have been swamped by floods; the local BPBD has yet to complete a list of victims. In the most severely hit district, Pangkalan, which contains more than 1,000 homes, floodwaters are now above 2 meters.

The main road to Riau, 2 kilometers of which was submerged on Monday, was again traversable on Tuesday.

Heavy rain continued to pour on Tuesday, exacerbating floods and hitting Rokan Hulu, Kampar and Kuantan Singingi regencies in Riau.

The floods submerged 1,606 houses in Kampar, 1,050 houses in Rokan Hulu and 554 houses in Kuantan Singingi after local rivers burst their banks. Authorities have urged riverbank-dwellers to remain on high alert.