Indonesia on High Alert After Floods

Rescuers and volunteers on Sunday, February 4, struggled to reach nearly 190,000 Indonesians left homeless by devastating floods triggered by heavy rains in and around Jakarta, as the death toll rose to 20

Indonesia on High Alert After Floods

"The number of our personnel is enough, but what we are lacking are rubber dinghies for the evacuation of residents," Jakarta police spokesman Untung Yoga Ana told the state Antara news agency.

With more rain forecast, authorities put the capital on high alert and police deployed 12,600 extra personnel equipped with helicopters, inflatable boats and rafts to assist with evacuation efforts across the city,

Water levels reached rooftops in some areas as rivers and canals that criss-cross the city burst their banks following days of torrential downpours, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Ana said the floods in the capital and surrounding area had left 20 people dead and one missing.

"The victims died because of disease, cold, electrocution or were swept away by the floods," Ana said.

At least 122 areas were seriously flooded in the city of 10 million people and the surrounding towns of Tanggerang Depok and Bekasi, he said.

"This weather pattern will continue until at least the end of February," said Edison Gurning of the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency.

With rain continuing to fall in water catchment areas south of the city, Gurning said the floods could spread even further.

Residents of Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta — a vast residential and commercial area inundated in 2002 by floods that killed 40 people — said the latest disaster was far worse.

"Last time, the water was only knee deep but yesterday, it had already reached my midriff when I left," said 48-year-old Brahmanta, who managed to leave his two-storey house with his car when water levels were still low.

Thousands Homeless

Residents evacuates a two-week old baby from a flooded area in east Jakarta. (Reuters)

The National Disaster Mitigation Coordinating Agency, also quoted by Antara, said the number of refugees forced to leave their homes due to the rainy-season floods was now at nearly 190,000, up from 106,095 registered as of early Saturday.

Mosques, schools and other public buildings in dry areas across the city were being used as makeshift shelters for the homeless, television reports showed.

Local television stations showed footage of inundated areas around the capital, mainly along the Ciliwung, Pesangrahan and Krukut rivers, with people being evacuated from their roofs or the second floors of their homes.

Helicopters dropped supplies to people stranded in the north of the city.

A key flood gate in East Jakarta could no longer block water flowing in from outside the city, staff there said, causing the city's main canal to burst its banks.

There was no immediate estimate of the number of families who needed to be evacuated.

Members of the Indonesian Red Cross and other volunteers were delivering food to the thousands of people stranded in their flooded homes or sheltering on roadsides.

The floods have forced the closure of several main roads across Jakarta, while at least two hospitals had to move patients to upper floors.

Power and fresh water supplies were cut to many inundated areas, adding to the misery of people who opted to stay in their flooded homes. At least 5,000 people were without telephone service.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar has blamed the floods on excessive construction on natural drainage areas, Antara reported.

"There are too many malls in the capital city," he said at the weekend.

The minister said many developers had not paid enough attention to the ecological impact of their construction projects.

Old Batavia, the former colonial port under the Dutch from where Jakarta has expanded, was built on marshland and some areas of the capital are below sea level.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, was the worst hit country when a 9.3 magnitude earthquake sent shockwaves through the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, unleashing tsunami waves that raced towards the shores of 11 nations.

The giant walls of water wrought devastation as never before, killing at least 168,000 people in Indonesia alone.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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