Friday, July 1, 2016


    Jakarta, July 1, 2016 (Antara)- Indonesia usually experiences dry season in July, but this year, due to weather anomalies, high-intensity rains have lashed several regions, triggering floods and landslides.
        The weather anomalies, unfortunately, are occurring at a time when millions of people are travelling from cities to their hometowns as part of the annual exodus to celebrate the post-fasting Lebaran Islamic holiday, or Eid al-Fitr, with their families.
        The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has forecast torrential rains that could cause floods, whirlwinds, and landslides during the current holiday season.    
   Therefore, the agency has urged Lebaran travelers to exercise caution while traveling during the rains.
        This year, the number of homebound travelers for Lebaran is expected to reach 17,698,484, up from 17,404,575 in 2015.
        President Joko Widodo has instructed concerned ministries and institutions to make better preparations for a smooth and safe exodus, which is locally known as "mudik."

   "In accordance with the president's directives, focus has been laid on two areas. The first priority is eliminating gridlocks during homecoming and return trips. This is a tough job," Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan stated while leading a roll call ahead of the Lebaran operations at his office recently.

        President Widodo has also called for increasing the safety of travelers during the travel to and from their native places.
        "During the period between a week before and after Lebaran last year, more than 700 people died in road accidents. It is a tough job (ensuring safety)," Jonan affirmed. 
   In fact, the number of casualties arising from traffic accidents during the "mudik" period is higher than those killed by natural disasters during the course of the year.
           "A total of 714 persons were killed in traffic accidents during Lebaran 2014, and 657 in 2015," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said.
            The number of casualties arising from natural disasters in 2014 was 622 and 276 in 2015, he added.
            Most of the accidents involved motorcycles, he noted, adding that there had been no accidents involving railway, planes, or ships over the past two Lebaran holiday seasons.
           From 2011 to 2015, a total of 3,631 were killed, 6,759 seriously injured and 20,569 others slightly wounded in traffic accidents during the Lebaran exodus.
         This year, Lebaran falls on July 6, and he urged the public to stay vigilant against natural disasters, such as floods, landslides and whirlwinds resulting from weather anomalies.
         "Rains with light, moderate or high intensity are forecast in many parts of the country during the Lebaran exodus period. Earthquake and tsunami can be predicted precisely, but they could happen any time," he stated.
         Floods are likely to occur in every part of Java Island, particularly in the northern coastal region of Java (Pantura), northern West Java, northern and southern Central Java, and some areas of East Java.
         Among landslide-prone areas are Bogor, Sukabumi, Cianjur, Majalengka, Bandung for West Java; Banjarnegara, Purbalingga, Wonosobo, Purworejo, Purwokerto, and Karanganyar for Central Java; Trenggalek, Ponorogo, Pacitan, and Malang for East Java.
           "Based on our prediction, moderate to high precipitations will occur in July over Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua," Sutop Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the agency, said here, Thursday.
         High precipitation could cause flooding and landslides on several routes of the Lebaran home-bound exodus locally called as "Mudik."
    Heavy rainfall is forecast for July 5 in Mentawai, Bengkulu, Maluku and Banda Sea; light to moderate rains are expected in Bali, parts of Kalimantan, and Papua. Moderate to high rainfall is expected in Central Java.
          Landslides are likely to threaten not only travelers who are still on the road, but also those who have already arrived in their hometowns to celebrate Lebaran with their relatives.
         In the meantime, the Health Ministry has set up 3,100 health posts to offer medical checkups to travelers.
        "We have set up 3,100 medical posts at several locations on the homecoming routes from northern Java to Makassar," Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek stated on June 30.
         The minister noted that the Public Health Center and regional hospitals in all provinces are also ready to provide medical services.
         According to Moeloek, the ministry has reviewed the readiness of all medical posts that will serve round the clock.
        The minister also appealed to all drivers during the homecoming event to take breaks every four hours.
        "We will check their blood pressure and blood alcohol levels and conduct tests to determine the presence of other drugs that lead to drowsiness. We remind all drivers to take rest when they get tired. We are offering free health facilities," she remarked.     ***4***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 01-07-2016 17:00:25

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