Blog note: Perilous times shall come. End of note.
Indonesia dam disaster: Thousands forced to flee after overflow kills at least 30
Chiara Giordano. The Independent•January 24, 2019
An overflowing dam has killed at least 30 people in Indonesia and forced thousands to flee their homes, authorities have said.
Amond the dead are two infants who drowned and a man who was electrocuted after the floods began late on Tuesday, according to Adnan Purichta Ichsann, the chief of Gowa district.
He said the death toll could rise as areas hit by landslides are waiting for heavy earth-moving equipment to join the search effort.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency has set up temporary shelters and field kitchens after more than 3,000 people were forced to flee their homes.
The operators of the Bili Bili rock-filled embankment dam were forced to release water on Tuesday, which contributed to flooding but avoided a worse disaster, said Mr Ichsann.
South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah told local media that siltation of the dam and deforestation of the upstream watershed had worsened the floods.
The head of the provincial disaster agency, who goes by the single name Syamsibar, said the amount of rainfall was declining on Thursday and that the dam’s water level had dropped by about two metres.
Aerial images show muddy brown water covering swathes of land and rushing water washing away houses and debris in some areas.
Several bridges have been damaged and power has been cut to the district.
A helicopter has had to be used to deliver aid after one major highway became blocked, according to local media.
An agency official named Hasriadi added: “So far we have found 30 people who drowned or were caught in landslides triggered by heavy rains and when the Bili-Bili dam started overflowing.”
Deadly landslides and floods are a frequent occurrence during seasonal rains in Indonesia, an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, with man-made changes to the environment often worsening the situation.
A landslide in Sukabumi, on the country’s most populous island of Java, earlier this month killed 32 people.
More than 600 homes, many hotels and vendor stalls, and more than 400 boats and ships were also damaged.