Bali Lashed By Heavy Winds, Stormy Seas – and Rumours


Powerful winds and high waves battering Bali has lead to several deaths and lengthy transport delays as ferry crossings were closed to traffic.  However, rumours of mass deaths in Nusa Dua, which spread through social networking media, proved to be unfounded.

The provincial Disaster Mitigation Body announced that the storms, which began midweek last week and continued until the weekend, had uprooted dozens of trees and damaged homes across the island.  Three deaths were also reported.

Two locals in Baturiti in Tabanan, Ni Made Kasning and Nyoman Ginarta, were killed by falling trees Wednesday, while a third person was killed in Sanur the following day, also by a falling tree.  In Bangli electricity cables were broken by the winds, causing lengthy power cuts in local communities.

The high winds also destroyed two buildings in the Pura Pedarman Dalem Segening temple complex in Klungkung on Friday.

“The two buildings were located on the east side of the complex and they collapsed due to the force of the wind,” said temple official, Anak Agung Gde Bagus.

Gde Bagus said that the damage had been estimated at Rp75 million.  He said that the temple, which is used by around 250 local families, had been renovated in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Kuta Beach Taskforce declared the resort’s beach closed to swimmers indefinitely as of Wednesday, with waters remaining out of bounds until the weekend.

Taskforce chief Anak Agung Ngurah Tresna said he had made the decision to close the beach after noting deteriorating water conditions on Wednesday morning.

“I immediately alerted all the relevant agencies and we decided to close the beach,” he said. “All members of the Kuta lifeguards, the on-duty marine police officers and the task force have been placed on alert to cope with possible emergencies.”

The beach remained open to surfers at their own discretion, but lifeguards ordered swimmers to steer clear.

“Tourists have been banned from swimming at the beach for a while, until the weather turns conducive,” said Ketut Ipel, coordinator of Bali’s Water Tourism Rescue Agency.

Elsewhere interisland transport was severely affected.  The main crossing between Java and Bali at Gilimanuk was temporarily closed several times late last week as winds rose, leading to delays for traffic making the trip, while the Padangbai-Lombok route was also closed, after a ferry had to make an emergency landing on a remote part of southwest Lombok.

The ferry, which was carrying 202 passengers, ran into heavy seas on Wednesday while heading for the main Lembar port on Lombok, and ended up listing severely.

The ferry was forced to put ashore near Gili Asahan in Sekotong where passengers were evacuated and taken to Lembar by bus.

“We had to wait for a lull in the weather before we could evacuate them,” said Carda Damanik, head of ferry operator ASDP for the Bali-Lombok crossing, adding that no one was injured in the incident.

The Padangbai-Lembar crossing was subsequently closed to traffic, causing tailbacks of trucks waiting to make the journey, with queues stretching back as far as Klungkung.

ASDP spokesman Eko Yulianto said that despite the tailbacks it had been deemed essential for safety to keep the crossing closed while bad weather continued.

The crossing was reopened on Sunday, but it took until the middle of the week to clear the backlog of trucks which had built up.

Speaking on Monday head of safety at Padangbai port Ketut Muliana said that it would take a considerable amount of time to restore waiting times for the crossing to normal.

“Since yesterday at 6pm conditions have been safe for navigation.  But there are long queues due to the port being closed for a total of two days,” he said, adding that close monitoring of the weather conditions was continuing, and that the port could be shut again if high winds returned.

“The weather remains a consideration.  If the situation worsens, we shall consider shutting down again,” he said, adding that waves mid-channel were now being recorded at between 0.5 and 1.3 metres.

I Nyoman Gede Wiryajaya of the Denpasar branch of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said that the bad weather had been caused by Cyclone Iggy, a tropical storm which formed in the Indian Ocean off Java last week.

Wirajaya said that the storm had created waves of up to five metres in height.  On Sunday a small tornado hit Sanur.

The bad weather was also met with a storm of internet rumours, with claims spreading through Facebook, Twitter, and the Blackberry Messenger network on Friday and Saturday that hundreds of people had been killed by high winds in the Nusa Dua aread.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBP) announced that the rumours were untrue.

“We have checked our Bali office and there is no such thing. It’s a hoax,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Sunday.

Agency chief Gde Made Jaya Serataberana also scotched the rumour and warned people not to pay attention to internet rumours.

“It was not true and the news was certainly fabricated and distributed by irresponsible individuals,” he said.

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