Thousands evacuated after floods blamed on deforestation

Heavy flooding on the island of Sumatra prompted the evacuation of 24,000 Indonesians and the death of two children, authorities said on Tuesday, as conservationists point to the effect of deforestation

Torrential rains have poured over the north of the Indonesian island since December 31, causing rivers to overflow and raising water levels up to three meters in residential areas, according to the local management agency. disasters. “We experience floods at least 5 to 8 times a year in Pirak Timur,” says Muzakkir, a 33-year-old resident of this locality in Aceh province, which like many Indonesians has only one name. “But today’s floods are among the worst,” he said, interviewed by AFP.

A family comes out of their residence. In some houses, the inhabitants have water up to their chests.

AZWAR IPANK/AFP

“The water is still rising in my house, it’s up to my chest” and “most of the houses in the area are flooded”, says Syarifuddin, a resident of Lhok Sukon in the same province. Authorities in North Aceh province have declared a state of emergency after the disaster which destroyed public buildings, infrastructure and agricultural areas.

In the agricultural province of Jambi, in central Sumatra, 24,000 people were also affected by floods which did not cause any casualties.

On the same subject

In Brazil, the distress of the victims after the floods

In Brazil, the distress of the victims after the floods

Floods caused by heavy rains in the Brazilian state of Bahia (northeast) have caused untold damage as its inhabitants try, under the threat of new floods, to save what they can in their modest covered homes mud

“We destroy the environment upstream”

For the environmental organization Walhi, these floods are closely linked to the deforestation of upstream areas for palm oil plantations. “If you destroy the environment upstream but the authorities only take care of the downstream, that does not solve the problem” and the floods will continue to occur every year, notes the executive director of Walhi in Aceh, Ahmad Shalihin.

In Lhok Sukon, North Aceh, flooding was severe as early as January 3.
In Lhok Sukon, North Aceh, flooding was severe as early as January 3.

AZWAR IPANK/AFP

Zulkifli, chief of the village of Meunasah Jok in North Aceh adds. “As the forests have gone up, the lower areas suffer a greater impact” in the event of flooding, says the official who also blames illegal logging.

Neighboring Malaysia is also struggling to recover from the exceptional floods that hit the country last month, causing around 50 deaths. Landslides and floods are common in both Indonesia and Malaysia during the rainy season. These disasters are often favored by deforestation and the lack of risk prevention, according to environmental activists.

Leave a Comment