02/22/2021, 12.42
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Jakarta and surrounding provinces devastated by floods

by Mathias Hariyadi

Torrential rains provoke flash flooding with five people dead so far, four of them children. Waters up to 2.5 meters high. Flooded houses and haywire traffic. Heavy rain is still expected in the coming days. Governor Baswedan accused of mismanaging the emergency.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Massive floods devastated the capital last weekend. The floods were caused by torrential rains that hit the area between 18 and 20 February. Several cities in the neighbouring provinces were also affected inlcuding: Bekasi and Karawang (West Java); Ciledug, Karawaci and Serpong (Banten).

So far the authorities have registered five victims, four of them children swept away by the currents. The capital was battered by 154 and 226 mm of rain in 24 hours: the fall of 150 mm in one day is considered an extreme event. The eastern and southern sectors, where the waters have risen up to 2.5 meters, are the most damaged.

In Kemang, a residential neighbourhood south of Jakarta, the sudden surge of water caused damage to homes, roads and dozens of cars. Thousands of citizens were stranded for hours in their cars or public transport along Jasa Marga, a busy toll road.

Dozens of rescuers intervened, especially to recover the elderly and minors stranded in submerged homes. There are about 1,700 displaced people: many of them have returned to their homes to free them from mud and debris.

Jakarta has 30 million inhabitants, and is subject to systematic flooding, as are part of the surrounding provinces. Heavy rains flooded the capital and other nearby cities on 1 December 2020, killing 67.

Anies Baswedan, governor of the capital, said that only 0.6% of the city was flooded: 200 neighbourhoods out of a total of 30,070. The waters, he pointed out, receded completely this morning. According to the National Climate Agency, the dangers will not disappear anytime soon. In fact, intense rainfall is expected until early March.

Baswedan has been harshly criticised for his mismanagement of the emergency. He is accused of not having wanted to carry on the project of his predecessor, Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who wanted to demolish the houses lying along the banks of the Ciliwung River. Hidayat then intended to relocate the occupants to other areas of the city.

In fact, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo plans to move the country's capital to Borneo in order to avoid the risks of natural disasters.

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