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19 killed, thousands of homes affected as floods and landslides hit Java, Indonesia


At least 11 people have been killed after heavy rain produced by Tropical Cyclone "Cempaka" triggered severe floods and landslides in East Java, Indonesia on November 28, 2017. Cempaka is the first named storm of the 2017/18 Australian region cyclone season. In addition to heavy rain, strong winds caused by Cempaka brought volcanic ash from erupting Mount Agung to Bali's Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, canceling flights for the third day in a row.

On November 22, 2017, TCWC Perth and TCWC Jakarta started to monitor a weak tropical low that had developed about 332 km (206 miles) south of the city of Surabaya,  the capital of Jawa Timur (East Java) province of Indonesia.

By 06:00 UTC of November 26, the system was classified as a tropical depression and TCWC Jakarta began issuing advisories. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), however, issued only a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert early on November 27, stating that satellite imagery depicted flaring convection near its center. Several hours later, TCWC Jakarta upgraded the system to a tropical cyclone, giving it the name Cempaka.

Tropical Cyclone Cempaka NASA MODIS

Tropical Cyclone "Cempaka" on November 27, 2017. Credit: NASA Aqua/MODIS

As of 12:40 UTC (19:00 WIB) on November 28, the center of Tropical Cyclone "Cempaka" was located 80 km (50 miles) S of the city of Jogyakarta and was moving NW at 15 km/h (9.3 mph) with maximum wind speed of 65 km/h (40 mph).

The system is expected to gain some strength over the next 24 hours, reaching maximum wind speeds of 75 km/h (46 mph) as it moves S and SSW, away from Indonesia.

Tropical Cyclone Cempaka forecast track by TCWC Jakarta November 28, 2017

Tropical Cyclone "Cempaka" forecast track by TCWC Jakarta on November 28, 2017

Cempaka's center came very close to the southern coast of Java on Monday evening (local time), Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) said.

Heavy rain it brought to the region caused severe floods and landslides in which at least 11 people lost their lives, officials said. Nine people were killed in a landslide and two in floods that hit Pacitan, East Java.

BMKG said the system will likely last for at least three more days and urged people to be prepared for floods, landslides and fallen trees. 

"Traffic at several airports in Java could be affected," Mulyono Prabowo, BMKG's meteorology chief, said.

The Transportation Ministry secretary general Sugiharjo said changing wind directions caused by the cyclone brought volcanic ash from the erupting Mount Agung to Bali's I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.

According to Sugiharjo, more ash is expected at the airport as long as the cyclone persists and later may also affect Lombok's Praya International Airport again. All flights at the airport were suspended Sunday, November 26 and resumed Tuesday, November 28.


November 29 

The death toll rose to 19, Nugroho said Wednesday. Most of the deaths occurred due to landslides.

Featured image credit: NASA Aqua/MODIS. Acquired: November 28, 2017

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