Indonesian capital Jakarta hit by deadly flooding

At least four people have been killed by heavy flooding in
the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, say officials.
The flooding, caused by days of heavy rain, has blocked roads
and forced businesses in the capital to close.
Areas including the central business district (CBD) were
inundated and traffic was grid-locked as residents struggled
to move around the city.
Some 20,000 people have abandoned their homes, as officials
warn that the rain could worsen in the next few days.
The governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, has declared a state
of emergency.
He also said he was committed to making a “breakthrough” in
efforts to tackle the flooding.
The CBD normally escapes damage when Jakarta experiences
its heavy seasonal rains, but on Thursday, many government
offices and businesses were forced to close because staff
could not get to work.
Local television pictures showed people wading through almost
neck-high water in some parts of the city, while in others, the
waters were up to 2m (6.5ft) deep.
“What we need most is life rafts and a big truck to help
evacuate motorbike drivers whose engines malfunctioned
because of the water,” Sofia, a student, told BBC Indonesian.
Another Jakarta resident, Wildan, urged the government to
do more to stop floods in future. “The dams are no longer
sufficient to hold the water,” he said.
Yayat Supriatna, an urban planning expert, told the BBC that
Jakarta’s drainage system “is still the same as it was in the
Dutch colonial era” and should be rebuilt.
“The floods are caused by the failure to manage and sustain
the rivers as water reservoirs. I suggest the governor dredge
the rivers because if the rivers are deeper the better [the
system] will function.”
The presidential palace grounds are among areas flooded, and
images showed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono walking
around the palace compound with Foreign Minister Marty
Natalegawa, wearing trousers rolled up above his knees.
Mr Yudhoyono told reporters: “I have no problem with the
palace being flooded. The most important thing is the people
are protected.”
He had instructed the national police chief and the army chief
to deploy their forces and evacuate flood victims, presidential
spokesman Julian Pasha told BBC Indonesian.
The Jakarta Post said two of the people killed in the capital
were children, aged 13 and two.
State funds are available to help those affected by the
flooding following the declaration of the state of emergency,
which will remain in effect until 27 January.
A Transport Ministry spokesman said air travel was not
disrupted.
A spokesman for state electricity company PLN said it had
cut power supplies to a number of areas to minimise the
danger of electrocutions, the Jakarta Globe reports.
The last severe flooding in Jakarta was in 2007, when at least
40 people were killed and hundreds of thousands forced from
their homes.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due in Jakarta on
Friday to meet top leaders and deliver a foreign policy speech.
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