At least 13 people are dead and over 40,000 forced from their homes after torrential rains, which first started Tuesday, caused flooding and landslides in northern Indonesia.
The brunt of the storms was felt in North Sulawesi, a province on the island of Sulawesi, where cars and houses were swept away by overflowing rivers and two people are missing. Another 1,000 people have been cut off from rescue workers after floods destroyed a bridge.
The rainy season in Indonesia which last from October through April has already killed dozens and displaced tens of thousands elsewhere in the archipelago.
Four people have also been reported dead in the capital city of Jakarta. Late last month five people were killed and another 5,000 displaced in Java. In Sumatra, at the beginning of December, nine people were killed in a landslide.
While Indonesia is no stranger to flooding, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho called the flooding”massive” and the death toll is expected to rise as heavy rains continue over the next several days.
Just a little over 300 miles from Northern Sulawesi, people on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao are enduring similar soggy misery. The floods and landslides have claimed 26 lives and displaced around 200,000. The country is still reeling from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan which swept ashore back in November, killing over 6,000, causing an estimated $1.5 billion of damage and displacing millions.
Elsewhere in the region, scientists are warning that a warmer Pacific could cause stronger typhoons for East Asia in the future. Rising sea surface temperatures in the Western Pacific which are helping to strengthen the Walker circulation system are making it more likely that cyclones will follow the line of the East Asian coast, from the South China Sea upward, before making landfall in China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula, when they will be at maximum strength.
One of the lead researchers, Professor Chang-Hoi Ho, from Seoul National University in South Korea, said in a press release that “Noticeable increases of greenhouse gases over the globe could influence rising sea surface temperature and change large-scale atmospheric circulation in the western North Pacific, which could enhance the intensity of tropical cyclones hitting land over East Asia.”