Hundreds of residents displaced by landslides in Indonesia

A landslide in Pagaran Honas village, Badiri district in Central Tapanuli regency, North Sumatra, on Friday forced 287 residents to take shelter.

Ten homes were reportedly destroyed by the landslide, while a school building was on the verge of collapse. No casualties were reported in the disaster.

As of Friday noon, Pagaran Honas village was still isolated. Meanwhile, road access to Aek Botot village, home to some 350 people, was also cut after a stretch of it was buried by debris.

The prevention affairs head at the Central Tapanuli Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Safaruddin Ananda Nasution, said a search and rescue team and some heavy machinery had been sent to the location to help the evacuation process and open access to Aek Botot village. He, however, acknowledged this had yet to be achieved and all the residents in Aek Botot were still isolated.

Safaruddin said the landslide also destroyed 10 homes in Pagaran Honas. He added people's activities had been stopped for the time being.

"As many as 287 Pagaran Honas villagers have been evacuated in case of further landslides. They are in tents at the shelter camp in Dusun I," Safaruddin told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Safaruddin said the chance of subsequent landslides in the village was high as it is located low in a hilly area, and rain was still falling heavily over Central Tapanuli.

He added Central Tapanuli was hit by landslides almost every year during the rainy season. This month, he said landslides had taken place twice in the regency.

The first was in Sibio-Bio village last week, when two couples were buried and killed, and a four-month-old baby went missing.

The SAR team and Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers found the remains of the baby in the Garoga River on Nov. 26 at around 12 p.m.

The second landslide, in Pagaran Honas village, occurred several days later on Thursday.

Hendra Suwarta from the Medan office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reminded residents in Central Tapanuli and regions on the western coast to remain alert for landslides as the rain intensity in the region was still regarded as high.

He said rainfall in North Sumatra would reduce between December and January next year.

Separately, hundreds of homes in Kota Pinang district, South Labuhan Batu regency, on Friday were engulfed by a meter of water caused by torrential rain over the past week. As a result, residents had been forced to evacuate to safer areas.

Kota Pinang resident Irwansyah said the flooding had started Wednesday. As of Friday noon, it had not receded. He said the flood was triggered by the Barumun River bursting its banks because of continuous rain over the past week.

Irwansyah expressed hope that the government would immediately intervene to overcome the annual floods in the area.

Based on data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), as many as 1,136 floods, landslides and whirlwinds had taken place this year. The disasters had killed 355 people, displaced more than 1.7 million and damaged more than 25,000 homes.

The damage from flash floods in North Sumatra would take up to Rp 1.4 trillion (US$114.4 million) to repair in 2014.

BNPB described areas prone to landslides in Sumatra as being hilly and mountainous regions, including areas located along the Bukit Barisan mountain range stretching through Aceh, North Sumatra and West Sumatra.