Floods in Indonesia kill 29, dozen missing

1 / 3
TOPSHOT - This aerial picture taken on April 27, 2019 shows a general view of submerged buildings after heavy rain caused flooding in Bengkulu on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. At least 10 people are dead and eight are missing after days of heavy rain-triggered floods and landslides on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, authorities said on April 28. / AFP / DIVA MARHA
2 / 3
This photo taken on April 27, 2019 shows residents salvaging belongings as floodwaters submerged their homes after heavy rains in Bengkulu on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. (AFP)
3 / 3
TOPSHOT - This aerial picture taken on April 27, 2019 shows a general view of submerged buildings after heavy rain caused flooding in Bengkulu on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. At least 10 people are dead and eight are missing after days of heavy rain-triggered floods and landslides on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, authorities said on April 28. / AFP / DIVA MARHA
Updated 29 April 2019

Floods in Indonesia kill 29, dozen missing

  • Almost 12,000 were evacuated from Bengkulu province
  • Authorities said illegal mining in Sumatra is partly responsible for the landslides

BENGKULU, Indonesia: Floods sparked by torrential rains have killed 29 people in Indonesia with a dozen more still missing, officials said Monday, marking the latest calamity for a disaster-prone nation.

Landslides and floods are common, especially during the monsoon season between October and April, when rains lash the vast Southeast Asian archipelago.

On Monday, Indonesia’s disaster agency confirmed 29 deaths and said at least 13 more people were missing after days of pounding storms on the island of Sumatra.

Some 12,000 others have been evacuated from water-logged Bengkulu province with hundreds of buildings, bridges and roads damaged.

Hardest hit was Bengkulu Tengah district, just outside of the provincial capital, where 22 people were killed along with hundreds of livestock.

Authorities have set up temporary shelters and public kitchens for the evacuees.

Meanwhile, a landslide triggered by heavy rain in Sumatra’s Lampung province on Saturday killed a family of six and disrupted transportation links to neighboring regions.

Flooding in parts of the capital Jakarta during the week killed at least two people and forced more than 2,000 to evacuate their homes.

Residents of Bogor, a satellite city of Jakarta, also had to contend with 14 pythons that were set loose from a private property due to the high waters.

Six of the snakes — which were as long as four meters — have been found, but the remaining eight remain on the loose, officials said at the weekend.

In Sumatra, authorities said that illegal coal mining was partly to blame for deadly landslides as the practice makes loose soil susceptible to slides when heavy rains hit.

“Apart from natural factors like the heavy rain, (the flooding) was also caused by human activity that destroys the environment,” disaster agency head Doni Monardo told reporters in Bengkulu on Monday.

Activists have long warned deforestation from rampant mining in the province could trigger a catastrophe.

At least four major rivers in Bengkulu overflow every time it rains due to environmental damage near their banks, activists said.

“The flooding in Bengkulu was made worse by the severe damage...caused by coal mining,” Ali Akbar from local environmental group Kanopi Bengkulu said in a statement.

Illegal mining was blamed for killing dozens on the island of Sulawesi in March when a makeshift mine collapsed.

Last month, some 112 people died and more than 90 remain missing after torrential rains pounded Indonesia’s Papua region, triggering landslides and flash floods.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.