Papua, 8 dead and 7 thousand displaced in flash floods
by Mathias Hariyadi

Heavy rains have led numerous rivers to break their banks flooding entire areas of the province. In recent days, Sumatra (three children dead and 32,000 displaced) and North Aceh have also been hit. Unregulated deforestation and illegal logging at the origin of the floods,. 




Jakarta (AsiaNews) - At least eight people have died in the heavy floods that have hit Jayapura, capital of the province of Papua, in the far east of the Indonesian archipelago. The torrential rains - which have caused rivers to overflow, the collapse of banks in several points and caused major landslides in several districts - began on January 7 and have caused the displacement of about 7,000 people. 

Among the areas affected by the floods and at the moment still covered in several parts by water are North Jayapura Utara, South Jayapura, Abepura, Heram and Muara Tami. The provincial capital, Jayapura, is divided into two different areas: the highlands, where the Sentani airport is located, and the lower part where most of the residential complexes, government offices and public facilities are located. 

The heavy floods have affected the lowland areas, where three different rivers flow, whose overflow is at the origin of the emergency. 

A critical situation, caused by a week of heavy weather, has also been recorded on the island of Sumatra, where there are currently at least 32,000 displaced persons and three victims, all children. The torrential rains that have been falling since December 31 have caused flooding in at least four districts and flooded much of the eastern sector, long below the water level. At least 11,000 houses were submerged, while the inhabitants sought shelter in makeshift places, temporary accommodation, public buildings and even mosques. 

In some areas the waters have begun to recede, but the state of emergency remains in force and the same rescuers are struggling to reach the affected areas. The authorities of North Aceh, among the most affected areas, have declared a state of emergency until January 15. At the moment the priority is still to save lives and help the people in need, but there are those who have already begun to count the damage and fear heavy repercussions on activities. Muhammad Hatta, a resident of the village of Lhoksukon in Aceh province, confirmed to al-Jazeera the serious concerns because "the local economy has been destroyed. 

Among the main causes of the floods that have affected several areas of Indonesia is the progressive deforestation taking place in recent years. Interviewed by AsiaNews, Jafar, also a resident of the village of Lhoksukon, points out that the "massive floods have become a common problem in the region of North Aceh in recent years" and "deforestation has aggravated the consequences of the phenomenon". Nur, former executive director of the local branch of Walhi (the Indonesian environmental fund), is certain: "The devastating floods that have flooded 15 sub-districts - he points out - are certainly linked to deforestation".