JAKARTA — Recent floods that inundated large areas of the southern part of Indonesian Borneo might have been exacerbated by massive deforestation for oil palm plantations and coal mines, activists say.
Heavy rains over the course of several days in early January battered the province of South Kalimantan, causing the Barito and other rivers to overflow. Floodwaters, in some areas as high as 3 meters (10 feet), forced the displacement of more than 112,000 people and claimed at least 21 lives. Nearly 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) have been affected.
President Joko Widodo, during a visit to the affected district of Banjar, attributed the disaster to the heavy and sustained rainfall. But environmentalists say the rapid loss of forest in the region in recent decades contributed to the scale of the flooding.
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