Streets run red as floods hit Indonesian batik-manufacturing hub

Dye used in traditional batik process colours water in village in Central Java

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A surreal, blood-red river inundated the Indonesian village of Jenggot after floods hit a nearby batik factory on Saturday, causing a frenzy on social media.

Thousands of users on Twitter shared photos and videos of the village south of Pekalongan city in Central Java after it was flooded by crimson-coloured water, which some social media users said reminded them of blood.

"I am so afraid if this photo gets into the bad hands of hoax spreaders," said a Twitter user Ayah E Arek-Arek. "Fear-mongering narratives about signs that it is the end of the world, bloody rain etc."

Pekalongan is known for batik, the traditional Indonesian method of using wax to resist water-based dyes and create patterns and drawings, usually on fabric.

It is not uncommon for rivers in Pekalongan to turn different colours. Bright green water covered another village north of the city during a flood last month.

"Sometimes there are purple puddles on the road too," said Twitter user Area Julid, who claimed to be from the area.

The section head for disaster mitigation and preparedness of the Pekalongan Disaster Mitigation Agency, Dimas Arga Yudha, confirmed the photos being circulated were genuine.

"The red flood is due to the batik dye, which has been hit by the flood. It will disappear when it mixes with rain after a while," he said, but confirmed the dye was harmless.

"They did not dump the dye on purpose, but several home industries were flooded and the dye packages were carried away by the water", he told AFP.

Local officials deployed pumps to drain the flooded area it was cleared in less than an hour.

Floods are very common across the Indonesian archipelago, especially during the rainy season.

In January at least 21 people died and more than 60,000 were evacuated after a series of major floods hit South Kalimantan.