Worst Flooding in Decades Inundates Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia, February 7, 2002 (ENS) - A week of incessant rain and the worst flooding in decades have claimed at least 57 lives in Greater Jakarta, and another 27 people have been killed in other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, according to government officials.

In Jakarta, 365,000 people are homeless, local newspapers said. A total of 114,441 people are housed in temporary shelters.

The flood waters reached the heart of Jakarta on the weekend, 15 to 20 percent of the city is under water, and the Presidential Palace and the central business district were inundated.

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Indonesian boy stands in a flooded area (Photo credit unknown)
There is concern about a possible outbreak of water borne diseases, and some illnesses have already been reported to health authorities.

Indonesian Red Cross volunteers in Jakarta this week used inflatable dinghies to get emergency food supplies to people forced to abandon their homes. Hundreds of volunteers from five branches distributed three metric tons of rice and other foodstuffs to more than 10,000 flood victims.

The Indonesian Red Cross is providing relief to 20,000 victims in 14 locations across the country.

The floodwaters had "started to recede" today, according to the online edition of the Indonesian Observer newspaper, but there is still a "high risk" of a repeat of extreme levels of rainfall and more flooding.

The rains let up on Tuesday long enough so that people who had fled from their houses began to return, but meteorologists are warning of more rains in the coming days.

Ole Hauge, head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, said nearly 20 percent of Jakarta's suburbs had been flooded, forcing more than 45,000 people to leave their homes for higher ground.

Over the weekend, flooding in Jakarta led to the shutdown of a power plant in the north of the city. The persistent flooding of many parts of the city prohibits the restoration of electricity. Some 17,000 homes are also without phone connection.

Across the Indonesian archipelago, villages have been evacuated in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java. In West Java, two deaths were reported in the city of Subang, and villages around Purwakarta suffered from landslides. In South Sulawesi, the city of Parepare reported two deaths. In South Sumatra, the area of Musi Banyuasin was inundated, and 12 deaths were reported in Atambua, West Timor.

Provincial authorities have provided food, clothing, rubber boats and search and rescue teams. Emergency teams of doctors from the Ministry of Health, as well as police and military units were dispatched to assist the victims.

Spontaneous assistance in the form of food, used clothes, and medicine from various organizations, the private sector, media, local and international NGOs and other groups has been overwhelming, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso admitted to a House of Representatives Commission on law and human rights today that his administration's environmental mismanagement was one of the causes of the worst flooding in the city's history, according to a report in the Indonesian Observer.

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Pantai Kapuk Indah Golf Course (Photo courtesy Reho Travel)
The former chief of the Jakarta Military Command, Sutiyoso promised he would ensure a golf course in the luxurious Pantai Indah Kapuk housing complex in North Jakarta was demolished and a dam put in its place to control flooding.

Pantai Kapuk Indah is a Par 72 championship course located adjacent to the Java Sea. Built in a water catchment area and mangrove swamp in the 1990s, the upscale residential development won permits from the ministry of forestry, the city administration and the ministry of environment in the previous administration.