Landslides

landslide

Image of her village from Luh Manis, shared on Facebook group: Ubud Community

We went to sleep last night (Thursday) as a savage thunderstorm rumbled; lightning flashed wildly, illuminating the sky and seeming to strike just metres away. Once again in this rainy season torrential rain tumbled down. But we were inside, snug and dry, as were the cats who appeared unsettled by the noise.

Other people were far less fortunate. News this morning tells of landslides near Mt Batur, a popular trekking area, that have claimed a dozen lives.

A few years ago we were driving from Ubud to Amed on the east coast. Our driver wanted to show us his village on the way so this meant driving along narrow, unmade mountainous roads in country little seen by most tourists. It has been raining but not particularly heavily.

As the tail end of a cyclone swept through that night, the roof was torn off our small hotel and we later learned that the road we had travelled had collapsed a few hours after we had passed by, with seven people being killed.

Remote Bali remains very beautiful glimpsed from the air-conditioned comfort of a modern vehicle, but the reality for the very poor people who try to eke a subsistence living from the soil can mean disasters such as this. We can only hope that the response from the authorities to provide shelter and food will be swift.

UPDATE: Saturday morning. We hear that the landslides and flooding have been more widespread than first thought. One of the main roads to Mt Batur runs close to our village. Further up the hill there is extensive flooding and landslide damage affecting water supply down the line. Compounds in our village have had no water since yesterday, and our own supply is low. We will probably run out later today and nobody has any idea how long it will be before authorities can fix the problem. Such is life in Bali. But I’ve expanded my Indonesian language vocabulary today: banjir = flood and tanah longsor = landslide.

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