Floods in Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta have claimed at least 21 lives and tens of thousands of residents were evacuated as the country’s disaster management agency’s warned on Thursday that the toll is expected go up, AFP reported. The natural disaster has been marked as the worst flooding since 2013 when dozens were killed due to monsoon rainfall.
Visuals from the flooded areas showed submerged homes and cars as some of the locals used rubber lifeboats to go around. “We hope the toll won’t keep going up,” said Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter, confirming the latest number of deaths.
Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said that certain parts of the city witnessed over a foot of rain that went on till Wednesday and more was likely this week. The city is one of Asia’s largest urban districts and has a population of over 30 million.
“The rain falling on New Year’s Eve in the western and northern parts of Java [Island] was very extreme,” the meteorology agency said on Wednesday, according to The Jakarta Post. “This rain is not ordinary rain.”
Till Thursday, around 19,000 people had been displaced as emergency workers attempted to pump out water from flooded streets and repair disrupted power lines, the Ministry of Social Affairs said. Over 100 officials, comprised of emergency relief and military units, were conducting rescue work in Jakarta, National Search and Rescue Agency Operations Director Budi Purnama told The New York Times.
Purnama said that the water discharge was very quick and the current was “so strong that it even pushes parked vehicles”. Police in Banten province’s Lebak regency said they were looking for at least eight people, who were reportedly missing. The torrential rain also triggered landslides in certain parts.
“The floods hit without warning,” a resident of the city, identified as Munarsih, told AFP. “The water came very fast and it rose quickly. We couldn’t manage to get our stuff out, including my car.”
Electricity was cut off on Wednesday in parts of Jakarta to avoid cases of electrocution. The transport ministry said that the Halim Perdanakusuma airport, which operates for military and commercial flights, was temporarily closed due to flooded runways. It was opened again on Thursday.
In a tweet, Indonesian President Joko Widodo attributed the situation to the delay in flood control infrastructure projects, according to BBC.