12/18/2019, 18.32
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Indonesia experienced 3,622 natural disasters in 2019

About 90 per cent are caused by hydrometeorological phenomena like tornadoes, flooding and landslides. The situation in 2020 is not likely to improve due to widespread environmental damage. Government agencies met to coordinate and harmonise emergency response operations.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) yesterday released a report indicating that 3,622 natural disasters occurred across the country so far this year, about 90 per cent (2,699) caused by hydrometeorological phenomena like tornadoes, floods and landslides.

As a result of the increase in the number of incidents, the authorities have been forced to improve emergency response protocols, since experts predict the trend will continue next year.

The BNPB registered 3,397 disasters in 2018, about 2,500 related to hydrological factors. Despite the greater number of disasters in 2019, the number of victims - 475 dead and 108 missing - is lower than last year when earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides in some parts of the country caused the death of 4,231 people.

Government data show that in 2019 most of the disasters were caused by tornadoes (over 1,280 cases), followed by 734 floods and 685 landslides.

BNPB spokesperson Agus Wibowo said that the situation is unlikely to improve in 2020 due to widespread environmental damage.

Environment and Forestry Ministry data show the country lost about 440,000 hectares of forests between 2017 and 2018. By comparison, the size of Bali Island is around 578,000 hectares.

At the same time, the BNPB noted that devastating fires wiped out over 942,480 hectares of forest in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) and Sumatra in 2019.

To tackle the matter, the agency held a meeting yesterday with the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the National Police as well as the Indonesian military at its headquarters in Central Jakarta.

The discussion focused on ways to coordinate and each agency’s disaster mitigation plans in the event of an environmental disaster.

Specifically, the increase in hydrological disasters prompted Basarnas to improve response times. Recently, it successfully revamped its rescue operations management protocol, shortening post-disaster rescue delays from 30 to 26 minutes.

The agency’s rescue teams remain on stand-by 24/7 at 67 search and rescue posts across the country with 4,500 trained volunteers and 3,000 personnel.

The National Police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) for its part is also taking steps to deal with a possibly more disastrous rainy season, training 2,500 personnel to be promptly deployed when needed.

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