Rising flood waters in Jakarta, Indonesia are causing massive devastation throughout the capital city. Over 20 deaths have been confirmed, and emergency services estimate the Jakarta flood has left 340,000 Indonesian residents homeless, and 670,000 more without electricity. Three days of unceasing torrential rains have overflowed the region’s rivers, causing the water to burst riverbanks and flood streets and buildings with muddy waters reaching up to ten feet in depth.
Authorities in Jakarta estimate that the floods are already the most destructive to hit Jakarta in five years, and the flooding is likely to continue and increase. The downpour began on Thursday, and meteorologists are currently predicting at least another week of heavy rains. There is a strong likelihood that the continuing rains will affect the hilly regions to the south of the capital city, as well as causing further destruction to the city itself, and making it harder for emergency workers to continue their rescue efforts.
Local officials have placed all emergency services on the highest level of alert in an effort to protect the residents of Jakarta, which are estimated at between nine and twelve million in number. The flood has cut water supplies and communications to some areas of the city as the death toll continues to rise. Medical teams and soldiers are employing boats and helicopters to reach stranded residents in need of help and care. Thousands of additional police have joined emergency workers in an attempt to handle the crisis. Rescue workers are also working to build makeshift rafts to navigate the waters so that they can evacuate residents from partially and fully flooded areas, and deliver much-needed supplies to the many residents who refuse to abandon their homes and businesses.
Several main roads have been closed in the city, and as buildings continue to fill with the rising waters, patients being treated in some local hospitals have been moved to upper floors. Many of the city’s suddenly homeless population are being sheltered in schools and mosques, and some residents are seeking temporary housing in the lobby of the five-star Borobudur Hotel.
Along with the dangers of drowning and electrocution, which have been responsible for a majority of the deaths and injuries so far, there is a rising fear of sicknesses like dysentery and diarrhea spreading due to the floods. The water is heavily polluted, and there is a concern about the spread of disease, a fear made all too vivid by the memory of a recent outbreak of deadly dengue fever in the region.
Environment Minister Racmat Witoelar of the central government is blaming much of the destruction on poor urban planning and the lack of suitable drainage systems throughout the capital city. Jakarta’s Governer Sutivoso points to deforestation in nearby Puncak as one cause of the flooding, stating that logging had destroyed natural water catchment areas.