New Year’s Eve flooding kills nine, displaces thousands in Jakarta

Torrential rains and overflowing rivers flooded dozens on neighborhoods in Jakarta, Indonesia, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Photo by EPA-EFE/ADI WEDA

Jan. 1 (UPI) — New Year’s Eve celebrations turned deadly overnight on Tuesday in Jakarta, Indonesia, as torrential rains and overflowing rivers triggered flooding in the capital and surrounding area, killing nine and displacing thousands.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo told reporters that at least 90 neighborhoods were submerged by flood waters. The heavy rains — nearly 15 inches, according to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan — triggered a landslide in Depok, a city just outside Jakarta.

More than 120,000 rescue workers have been deployed to assist residents in evacuations and install water pumps. Authorities warned schools and local offices that the emergency may require the use of their facilities to shelter and care for those displaced by the floods.

“I want all the officials in the Jakarta administrations to make sure that all government buildings and schools are ready to be used as evacuation shelters,” Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said. “Prepare public kitchens, healthcare posts, medicines, sleeping mats, public toilets and other basic needs for evacuees.”

The torrential downpours brought transportation in the region to a standstill, as flood waters submerged roads, rail ways and runways.

Jakarta’s airport has been closed since midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the Transportation Ministry’s air transportation director-general Polana B. Pramesti said officials can’t predict when the water will recede enough to allow flights in and out of the Indonesian capitals to resume.

According to Bloomberg News, the state-run electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara reported electricity outages in at least 700 areas in greater Jakarta.

Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest city, is sinking and regularly experiences flooding during the wet season, but the floods that rang in the New Year are the worst the city’s experienced since 2013.

The risk of extreme flooding is expected to get worse as the city sinks and sea levels rise. As Business Insider reported last year, officials want to spend billions of dollars to both fortify the region’s major rivers and relocate many of the most flood-prone parts of the city. The relocation efforts could see hundreds of thousands of people moved, but the plans are likely to take more than a decade to complete.


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