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Flash flooding kills four in Sulawesi

Environment group blames mining for contributing to problem

  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • August 27, 2012
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Four people have been reported killed and four more remain missing following flash floods which hit different areas of Central Sulawesi following heavy rainfall on Saturday evening, provincial authorities said.

After water levels rose as high as five meters washing away more than 30 houses, nearly 1,500 people were forced to flee Parigi Moutong district for drier land where many took refuge in shelters built by authorities as well as in church buildings and houses.

Four people were seriously hurt and a further two had minor injuries, said Arisman Kalaksa, secretary of the district’s Regional Disaster Management Agency.

“It is possible that these numbers will get higher,” he said of casualty figures. “Right now we are still recording the data.”

The military had been brought in to work alongside the agency to help distribute food, water, clothes and medical equipment, added Kalaska.

The rushing water damaged a steel bridge in the provincial capital Palu cutting off access to some districts.

The flooding also caused considerable damage to the farming industry in the area, destroying a 3-kilometer-long irrigation system, killing 39 cows and wiping out more than 1,100 hectares of paddy fields and 600 hectares of cocoa.

The worst of the flooding was over, said Kalaska, as water levels started to return to normal today even though rain has continued in some areas.

East Palu was also hit by flash flooding on Saturday.

Four homes were washed away in Poboya after heavy rains caused the Pondo river to overflow.

Mat Pelor, director of the Indonesian Forum for Environment in East Sulawesi province, blamed environmental degradation – including mining operations in the area – for making the flooding worse.

“I’m not saying that flash floods came because of miners since flash floods with a smaller impact happened before the miners came,” he said according to kompas.com. “Miners are part of those destroying the environment, that’s true.”

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