Torrential rains caused flooding that paralyzed much of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Thursday, resulting in the deaths of at least four people and forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands of others.
Parts of the capital were under at least six feet of water, and even the presidential palace was not spared as waters rushed into the complex. In the central business district, water levels rose to at least 18 inches. Cars, buses and motorcycles were stranded in the streets, and soldiers in rubber boats rescued people trapped in their homes.
“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Yudi Sukarno, 40, who has lived in the Bendungan Hilir neighborhood since he was a child. “There’s all this asphalt and concrete, so the water doesn’t have anywhere to go.”
Local news broadcasts showed images of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono standing shin-deep in water that had flooded into the presidential palace.
“It’s O.K. if the palace is flooded,” Mr. Yudhoyono told reporters. “What is important is that the people are protected.”
Thirteen rivers run through Jakarta, but poor drainage caused by garbage and the depletion of wells in a city already at or below sea level has intensified the impact of the flooding. The problems have recently been exacerbated by deforestation outside the city, which allows rainwater to flood in.
In central Jakarta on Thursday, muddy torrents filled major thoroughfares as evacuees tramped through waist-deep water in one neighborhood. A group of men balanced an air mattress with a sick elderly woman on their shoulders in an effort to get her to a hospital.
Flood walls in one neighborhood collapsed, inundating neighborhoods in east Jakarta. Residents in one area there, Kampung Melayu, were forced to the second levels of their homes, and some took refuge on a highway overpass. Others gathered in mosques, which were filled with people escaping the floods, according to volunteers.
The Indonesian Meteorological Agency said heavy rains were expected in the Jakarta region for the next three days.
“Because of the rain’s intensity, we’ve declared an emergency situation from now until Jan. 27,” Jokowi Widodo, the governor of Jakarta, told reporters.Here's a report in the Friday Jakarta Post, which says the death toll is actually 14. And here's another from the Jakarta Globe. As bad as this is, it's the aftermath I worry about: dengue, typhoid, malaria, diarrhea, leptospirosis, and every other disease that follows flooding.