Moch Fiqih Prawira Adjie, Jakarta – The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said the country witnessed fewer natural disasters in the first half of this year, with 1,549 disasters recorded as of June – fewer than 2,229 in the same period last year.
The agency also recorded fewer fatalities caused by natural disasters, with 206 people having lost their lives in the last six months due to such disasters. Natural disasters claimed 479 lives throughout the first half of 2019.
Moreover, natural disasters throughout the first half of this year injured 273 people and displaced 2.3 million residents. The disaster agency also recorded that such calamities damaged more than 22,000 buildings, including houses, places of worship, schools and health facilities.
More than 99 percent of natural disasters occurring in the first half of 2019 were hydrometeorological disasters caused by atmospheric, hydrological and oceanographic phenomena, such as floods, droughts, putting beliung (small tornadoes) and high tides.
"The most affected region was Central Java with 332 disasters, followed by West Java with 290, East Java 205, Aceh 151 and South Sulawesi 86," BNPB spokesperson Raditya Jati said in a statement on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 pandemic complicated disaster mitigation efforts in the country, especially in areas with a high number of confirmed cases. "This calls for extra readiness and anticipatory measures by all parties, so we can avoid COVID-19 transmission upon responding to the emergency situation," said Raditya.
Floods made the headlines this year, as they were still inundating several regions in Sulawesi and Kalimantan as of late June.
Jakarta also saw widespread flooding on New Year's Eve and in February due to record-breaking rainfall in the capital and its surrounding areas. The location for the country's future capital city, North Penajam Paser regency in East Kalimantan, was also inundated by floodwater in February, affecting at least 422 residents.
Flash floods caused by an overflow of the Bone River in Gorontalo in June had forced residents of Bone Bolango regency and Gorontalo municipality to take shelter away from their homes.