Days of incessant rain in Lhoksukon, a city in the Aceh region of Indonesia, have caused catastrophic floods affecting thousands. Officials are concerned about the danger to the regional economy.
Floods are common in Southeast Asia, but this most recent rain has displaced an estimated 30,000; at least two children have died as a result of the floods.
Environmental groups contend that deforestation related to the development of palm oil plantations is responsible for a situation which is more serious that it might have been. As areas are deforested, rain waters now flow freely downhill without any obstacles to break the flow.
Whole regions have been submerged for days and there are fears that, once water levels decrease, it will be too late to save downslope rice crops.
Emergency has been declared in North Aceh as authorities struggle to feed and keep warm those who have been affected.
Local authorities are also concerned that the situation might worsen and fear a steep increase in COVID cases and other illnesses. As populations flee and many take shelter with relatives, social distancing measures become impractical and this may cause a spike in COVID-19 cases in a region where the spread of the virus was under control.
Additionally, lung infections and diseases caused by the flood waters are also a concern, particularly as the flood waters have damaged infrastructures and made emergency action more difficult.