At least 20 people killed as flooding hits Indonesia

Homes are destroyed as torrential rain causes a river to overflow its banks in western Java.

Java Flooding
The town of Garuk was worst hit by the raging floodwater. [Reuters]

At least 20 people have been killed after torrential downpours struck the Indonesian island of Java.

The rain storm developed around 09:00 GMT on Tuesday (4pm local time) and continued for about 13 hours.

The excessive amount of rain caused the Cimanuk River to overflow its banks, sending torrents of water hurtling down the hillsides.

The worst hit town was Garut, where the force of the water destroyed hundreds of homes and tossed cars through the streets.

At least 20 people are known to have died in the floods, and dozens of people are still missing.

The floodwater also forced its way into Garut hospital, leaving a sea of dark, muddy water in rooms where patients lay.

Flooding and landslides are not uncommon in Java, but the timing of this storm is surprising.

September is the dry season, with Jakarta only expecting 66 millimetres of rain in the entire month.

However, the receding El Nino conditions in the Pacific have intensified the rains across parts of Southeast Asia over the past few months.

El Nino is the warming of the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean, which is known to affect the weather around the globe.

The waters cooled dramatically since its peak in January this year and this has had a knock-on effect on the weather in India, China, Southeast Asia and Australia.

In June, it was expected that the opposite of El Nino, known as La Nina, would develop in the Pacific in the following months.

La Nina is the cooling of the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean, and usually causes an increase in the rains in the region.

However, the cooling did not happen, and it is now thought that La Nina will not emerge until next year.

Thankfully this means that rainfall of the intensity of that seen in western Java is unlikely to be repeated in the region in the near future.

Additional reporting by Steff Gaulter