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  • Indonesian youths play in flood waters in a neighborhood in Jakarta on Feb. 25.

    Indonesian youths play in flood waters in a neighborhood in Jakarta on Feb. 25. | Photo: AP

Published 26 February 2020

Around 40 percent of Jakarta is located below sea level, which worsens the effects of inundations and one of the main factors worsening the disastrous effects of the periodic rains is climate change.

At least five people were killed, three were missing and nearly 20,000 had been displaced by floods in Jakarta following torrential rains, Indonesian authorities said on Wednesday.

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The floods, which saw waters rising as high as 1.5 meters in some areas of the city, affected some 75,000 people and 22,000 houses, national disaster management authority (BNPB) spokesperson Agus Wibobo said in a statement.

He added that joint rescue teams were looking for the missing people, even as floodwaters receded in some parts of the capital, a day after the city ground to a halt as widespread flooding disrupted transport and power supply.

Although the torrential rains lashing the city since Monday have subsided, flood alerts continues to be in place.

The worst hit areas included eastern Jakarta and the Karawang Regency, situated some 50 kilometers away from the Indonesian capital in the West Java province.

The Indonesian meteorological agency (BMKG) had warned on Monday of the effects of two tropical cyclones in the region: Esther – currently downgraded to a tropical depression over north Australia – and Ferdinand, located in the Indian Ocean between Australia and the southeastern island of Java.

In late December and early January, torrential rains in the Southeast Asian nation had resulted in the death of more than 60 people in the Jakarta metropolitan area while tens of thousands were displaced from their homes. The capital has witnessed flooding on two more occasions since then.

Every year, the tropical archipelago is afflicted by floods and landslides during the rainy season, which peaks between December and February.

Jakarta was hit by some of the heaviest rain since records began at the beginning of the year, causing floods that killed more than 60 people and displaced about 175,000. Several other minor floods have hit different parts of the city since.

One of the main factors worsening the disastrous effects of the periodic rains appears to be climate change: Jakarta, an especially overcrowded and heavily-polluted urban agglomeration, is sinking at an alarming rate mainly due to the excessive extraction of groundwater, prompting authorities to announce last summer they would soon relocate the nation’s capital to a lushly forested area on the island of Borneo.

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