JAKARTA — Police in Indonesia are considering opening an investigation into allegations that a recent deadly flood in Borneo may have been exacerbated by environmental degradation linked to coal mining activity. Twenty-four people died in the flood in early January that hit 11 of 13 districts in South Kalimantan province, while more than 113,000 people were displaced from their homes. Heavy rains had caused the Barito and other rivers in the province to overflow. Environmental activists say the widespread deforestation across the province for coal mines and oil palm plantations exacerbated the disaster by compromising the catchment area’s ability to absorb the high rate of runoff. The environment ministry has refuted this, but now the police say they may call in mining company executives for questioning. Police spokesman Rusdi Hartono said investigators had identified top executives of companies believed to be responsible for the environmental degradation in South Kalimantan. “We will summon higher-ups of mining companies there,” he said as quoted by Bisnis newspaper. He added police were still working on the assumption that the cause of the disaster was entirely natural. Merah Johansyah, coordinator of the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), an industry watchdog, said it’s clear the disaster constitutes a crime. “There’s a crime there because 24 people have lost their lives,” he told Mongabay. “Who are responsible for these 24 deaths? There needs to be an investigation into that, and it shouldn’t stop at asking for clarification from several parties.” Merah said the investigation needed to involve other…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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