Thursday 23 January 2020

More than 60 dead in Jakarta mudslides

Thousands more have been displaced from their homes after heavy rains and flooding.

A woman wades through flood water in Jakarta (Dita Alangkara/AP)
A woman wades through flood water in Jakarta (Dita Alangkara/AP)

By Niniek Karmini, AP

Mudslides and power blackouts hampered the search for people missing in massive floods in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, where more than 60 people are confirmed dead and thousands of evacuees are living in damp, cramped emergency shelters.

More than a thousand soldiers and health workers sprayed disinfectant in hard-hit areas on Sunday to fend off diseases that could spread in the floods.

Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged a dozen districts in the greater Jakarta area after extreme New Year’s Eve rains, causing landslides in hilly areas on the outskirts of the capital that buried scores of people.

It’s the worst flooding in the area since 2007, when 80 people were killed over 10 days. More rain is forecast, and the potential for more extreme rainfall is possible for the next month.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said on Monday the death toll from flash flood and landslides in and around Jakarta had risen to 66.

In Lebak district, where flash floods and mudslides damaged more than 2,000 houses in several villages, some were swept away, rescuers were still searching for a 7-year-old boy reportedly dragged away by flash flooding that killed at least nine people, said Zainal Arifin, a local search and rescue agency chief.

He said mudslides that covered much of the area, blackouts and lack of telecommunications were hampering the search efforts.

About 11,000 health workers were deployed to provide medical care for people affected by the flooding, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said in a statement. He said there had been no recorded cases of serious waterborne diseases, after disinfectant spraying started Sunday.

Waters have receded in most parts of greater Jakarta, allowing many residents to return and clean up, but scores of tightly packed settlements close to rivers that often suffer from floods during the rainy season remained inundated or covered in mud and debris.

Government data on Monday showed some 35,500 people were unable to return to their homes, with the receding floodwaters still two feet high in places.

PA Media

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