WINTER OF 2001-2002

compiled by  Dee Finney


JANUARY, 2002  - DECEMBER 2001

Indonesian Floods Death Toll at 142
Thu Feb 7, 5:29 AM ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - More than 140 people have died across Indonesia in two weeks of crippling floods, local officials said Thursday.

 The rainy season has caused chaos throughout the country since it began last month. Thousands were forced from their homes in Jakarta last week after the worst floods to hit the capital in 30 years.

At least 30 people died in Jakarta, police said, and another 30 in the nearby industrial towns of Tangerang and Bekasi.

In east Java, flooding engulfed several towns, including Situbondo and Bondowoso, where 75 died.

Another eight people died from landslides in northern Bali last week, local officials said.

The national disaster agency said it could not confirm the death toll because reports were still coming in from stricken areas.

Thick mud and floods are blocking several roads in eastern Java, hindering relief efforts that now focused on preventing disease..

Floods hit large parts of Indonesia every year. Environmentalists say illegal logging of hillsides is often a factor in the disasters.

Rains, Mudslides and Floods Hit Peru
Tue Feb 5, 4:22 PM ET

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - Heavy rains hammered Peru on Tuesday, triggering landslides and turning roads and shantytowns into rivers of mud and debris in the capital Lima and across the Andean nation, officials said.

"The rains are coming at us from all sides and we have to take precautionary measures," President Alejandro Toledo told reporters during a visit to the mud-strewn outskirts of Lima.

There were no reports of injuries, and officials said they did not yet have information on how many people had been forced from their homes.

Television images showed flooded streets and destroyed houses in the hilly shantytowns surrounding Lima, Peru's sprawling capital of 8 million people, as well as in Cusco, the historic tourist city some 11,550 feet above sea level in the southern Andes.

"Many houses have fallen and people are desperate ... We want help," one Lima resident told RPP radio. Lima, situated on Peru's coastal desert strip, rarely receives heavy rain.

Toledo ordered a state of emergency in hospitals in the affected areas of Lima, as well as central and southern Peru. He also said he would send the military to help clear highways and roads blocked by mudslides. Tourist flows to Cisco, the gateway to the famed Inca citadel Mach Picchu named a world heritage site by the United Nations, resumed on Tuesday after its airport reopened. But air traffic to Arequipa, Peru's second biggest city some 600 miles south of Lima, remained halted.

According to radio reports, rains also soaked the city of Tumbes near Peru's northern border with Ecuador.

"Rains are normal during this time of year but this is heavier than usual," said one civil defense official in Lima who requested anonymity. January and February are the hottest months of Peru's South American summer but the wettest months in the Andes, the backbone of the country.

In 1998, violent storms, flooding, and mudslides killed more than 200 people and left thousands homeless when Peru was hit by El Nino, a periodic weather phenomenon.

U.S. government weather experts said on Tuesday they saw evidence an El Nino -- an abnormal warming of ocean waters that occurs every two to seven years -- would develop in the tropical Pacific in the next three months.

Rains Pelt Indonesia's Jakarta Amid Flood Warning
Sun Feb 3, 9:29 PM ET

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Heavy rains pounded Indonesia's capital of Jakarta early on Monday and dark skies closed in on the sprawling city as weather experts forecast another wave of flooding this week.

  Almost unrelenting torrential rain brought the city of around 12 million people to a near standstill last week, closing schools and shops, and triggered panic-buying at supermarkets.

The cost of basic goods such as rice and cooking oil also sky-rocketed.

Local media and officials have said at least 45 people -- around 20 in Jakarta -- have died as a result of the floods, which have also damaged food crops in outlying regions.

In central Jakarta, the ballroom of the luxurious Regent Hotel was submerged and some of its guests were forced to evacuate at the weekend.

"We forecast there will still be more torrential rains this week because heavy clouds are lying over most parts of Java (island)," Endarwin, an official from the Geophysics and Meteorology office in Jakarta told state-owned Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (RRI).

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is still expected to visit Jakarta on Wednesday for crucial talks on people smuggling despite possible chaos in the capital.

"There is no change to plans at this stage," a spokeswoman for the prime minister told Reuters on Monday.

Howard is scheduled to hold talks with President Megawati Sukarnoputri on the thorny issue of asylum seekers ahead of an international conference on boat people in Bali later this month.

Bursts of weekend sunshine brought some respite to Jakarta residents, who cleaned up piles of rotting garbage and other debris from around their homes.

Electricity had also returned to parts of the capital and waist-deep water in the city's main thoroughfares had receded but the worst-hit areas still resemble a murky swamp and fears of disease are high.

The flooding is the worst to hit Jakarta in decades and saw around 17,000 police deployed across the capital to help rescue flood victims and prevent looting from abandoned homes and cars.

Chronic flooding, mostly caused by clogged water ducts and poor drainage, hits Jakarta and other areas of the country every year during the wet season from October to April and the capital is particularly vulnerable as several rivers meet this low-lying port city.

But the authorities have come under attack for not responding quickly enough and for failing to make the city more flood-proof.

Cyclone Chris Hits Northwest Australia
Tue Feb 5, 6:36 PM ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) - One of the most severe cyclones to hit Australia crossed the sparsely populated northwest coast early on Wednesday, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said.


Reuters Photo
The bureau upgraded Cyclone Chris to the severest category five overnight and forecast "very destructive winds" of up to 180 miles per hour at the center of the tropical storm.

Landfall was near the iron ore port town of Port Headland around 1,000 miles north of Perth. Gusts of up to 80 miles per hour are expected in neighboring coastal communities.

"Tides (in the region) are likely to be significantly above the normal high tide mark with damaging waves and dangerous flooding," the bureau said. It warned that heavy rain could bring flooding to the low-lying inland desert.

Chris's intensity now exceeds the category four cyclone Tracy which destroyed the tropical northern city of Darwin in 1974. There have been no reports of injuries or damage from Chris.

Category five cyclone Vance, which hit the northwest coast in 1999 recorded winds of up to 190 mph an hour. Cyclone Chris is the first tropical storm of the summer cyclone season on the northwest coast.

On Tuesday, torrential rain, flash floods and landslides caused havoc along Australia's east coast with emergency services receiving nearly 1,000 calls for help after more than 80 millimeters of rain fell across Australia's biggest city Sydney.

The downpour followed devastating bush fires over the Christmas and New Year period with over 100 blazes burning more than 1.4 million acres of bush, an area around three times the size of Greater London.

Further heavy rain and possible flooding is expected on the north coast of New South Wales as a low pressure system and moist easterly winds move in.

Floods Displace Thousands in Malawi
Sat Feb 2,11:34 AM ET

By RAPHAEL TENTHANI, Associated Press writer

BLANTYRE, Malawi - Flooding in central and northern Malawi has displaced several thousand people and has washed away crops and livestock, authorities said Saturday.

  More than 1,500 homes in the central lakeshore district of Salima were destroyed or badly damaged by a week of heavy rains that caused the Dzongwe River to burst its banks, a government official said.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, but many of the flood victims have not eaten for several days.

Over 2,750 acres of crops and a railway line also were washed away, he said.

Heavy rains two weeks ago destroyed a bridge spanning a major road, further complicating relief efforts.

Meanwhile, in the northern border district of Karonga, a relief effort is under way to provide food and shelter to thousands of other flood victims who lost their homes and crops.

"Over 3, 000 families have lost everything and have to replant their (fields) if hunger is to be averted this year," said Khwauli Msiska, an opposition lawmaker in the area.

And on the remote Chisi island in the southern Zomba district, about 72 homes were destroyed by a rainstorm. A woman and her daughter were injured in the downpour.

Flooding during the rainy season is commonplace in Malawi, a poor southern African nation of 11 million people.

Two years of severe flooding and poor harvests have left the country facing dire food shortages.

Toddler Dies in Ill. Flood
Fri Feb 1, 1:23 PM ET

ANNA, Ill. - A 3-year-old girl was found dead after floodwaters swept her from her grandmother's arms as the woman tried to cross a stream near her home.

  "Apparently, she thought it was too deep to drive through, so she attempted to carry (the girl) across," said Union County Sheriff Jim Nash. The child was swept away when the woman slipped and fell, he said.

About 200 emergency workers searched for the toddler for more than two hours before finding her body in a brush pile 200 yards downstream. Her name was not released.

Heavy rain has drenched much of southern Illinois since Tuesday, dumping up to 1.6 inches around Anna on Thursday alone.






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