h/t Argiris Diamantis
This cold event near the equator seems to have slipped under the media radar (my bold).
In recent weeks, thousands of people in the Indonesian Province of Papua have been suffering the effects of a severe cold wave that has left remote communities in need of food and clean water.
The cold wave first struck at the beginning of July, hitting the district of Lanny Jaya particularly hard. The sub-districts of Kuyawage, West Wanu and Goa Baliem were struck by hailstorms accompanied by freezing temperatures which plunged to minus two degrees Celsius.
“Water is an urgent need for the communities in Lanny Jaya,” said the Executive Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross Society, Ginandjar Kartasasmita. Local water sources are reportedly frozen or have been contaminated and supplies of bottled water are unavailable in local markets. In response, the Red Cross has so far distributed 500 gallons of drinking water, blankets and instant food to help 182,000 people who are in need of humanitarian assistance.
All aid items have been decided following a rapid assessment carried out by the Red Cross in coordination with local authorities which have distributed five tonnes of rice to Kuyawage and deployed two doctors and five nurses.
The average temperature in Lanny Jaya ranges between 17.8 degrees to 32 degrees and such an extreme cold wave hasn’t been witnessed since 1989. So far, nine people have died, half of whom were children. Hundreds of people are suffering from health problems while thousands are threatened with food shortages. The hailstorms caused severe damage to farmland and killed a large number of livestock.
“Our community has suffered as the hailstorms destroyed yam crops and people have nothing to harvest. It also killed 168 pigs which are our main livestock,” said Lenius Muria Lanny, head of Kuyawage sub-district.
Delivering aid to the region is a major challenge. Affected villages are nestled high in the mountains and to reach them, Red Cross volunteers walked for three days with supplies as the unstable weather has hampered efforts to send materials by small aircraft which is normally the only form of transportation that can be relied upon.
According to the Indonesian Agency for Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics (BMKG) the cold wave with accompanying hailstorms is a climatic event that could be attributed to El Niño which typically brings colder than normal temperatures to the far eastern Pacific during the June-August and September-November seasons.
These are a couple of reports that emerged (emphasis added)
Hailstorm in Papua Kills 11 People
TEMPO.CO, Papua – An uncommon occurrence of hailstorm in Wano Barat, Lanny Jaya, Papua, which occurred from July 3 to July 5, 2015, was reported to kill 11 people from 11 villages. “They freeze to death as the temperature reaches minus two degrees Celsius,” said Regional Secretary of Lanny Jaya Regency Christian Siholait, on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.
Christian also said that the blizzard has devastated plantations and farm animals. Even worse, he added that some people now suffer from diarrhea.
The Lanny Jaya Regency recently recorded three hailstorm events in three different areas, including Kuyawage and Baliem village. “In total, there are 26 villages in three districts that are cut off and in need of immediate aid,” Christian said.
Christian added that he plans to send three teams to distribute food, medicine, and medical supplies to the three districts. “We will rent a plane […] because the three districts can only be reached by 10 days of walking. We need central government response on this matter,” Christian said.
Indonesian Minister to visit hailstorm-hit district in Papua
Some five thousand people affected by the hailstorms live in this district, so I will ensure that the stock of logistics is sufficient until October,” [Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa]
noted here on Tuesday.
The temperature in the hailstorm-hit area reportedly reached between 0 and -2 degrees Celsius that resulted in the deaths of several cattle and 11 people.
The hailstorms occurred in Lani Jaya on July 3 to 5, 2015.
Earlier, a team of the social affairs ministry handed over assistance for the victims of hailstorms in Papua Province.
The aid comprised 15 tons of rice, 300 blankets, 600 boxes of instant noodles, 600 packs of side dish, and 600 others for Duga and Lani Jaya districts.
Hailstorms also hit the districts of Nduga and Puncak in Papua Province and caused a failure in the paddy harvest.
The natural disaster affected six sub-districts and 21 kampongs in three districts, with a total population of 20,160 families.
The residents living in regions located at 2.7 thousand meters above sea level are in need of food and medicines, including for infants