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Flooded Jakarta Braces for More Downpours

  • Kate Lamb

Women wade through a flooded street in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 17, 2013.

Women wade through a flooded street in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 17, 2013.

A state of emergency has been declared after heavy rains have paralyzed much of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Thousands have been evacuated from their homes as the city braces itself for continued monsoon downpours over the coming days.

Floods are almost a daily occurrence in Jakarta’s rainy season.

But this week’s monsoon rains have been the fiercest the capital has seen in years.

Torrential downpours and overflowing rivers have forced more than 18,000 people to evacuate their homes and left more than 11 people

In the worst-hit areas, the water is more than chin high. People have been forced to evacuate their homes on makeshift rafts and rubber boats.

Yesterday’s alleys and streets are now murky brown rivers strewn with rubbish and household items.

"I have already evacuated my home and helped my mother and father to evacuate. The floodwaters were up to 4 meters high at our house," says Ardy, "a resident of Kampung Melayu in South Jakarta."

Ardy says that more than 2,500 people from his neighborhood have been camped out in the local mosque for three days now. He says they are in desperate need of food, water and clean clothes, and he is worried they will get sick.

Ardy’s neighborhood is situated on the now-overflowing Ciliwung River, where severe floods are not unusual.

But it’s not just Jakarta’s poorest riverside neighborhoods that are underwater.

Even the president was wading through knee-high water at the state palace.

Floods, blackouts, gridlock and the shutdown of public transport have crippled normal activities at the center of Southeast Asia’s largest

Newly elected Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo has declared a state of emergency until January 27.

The Jakarta governor says he is committed to making a breakthrough, not just a small effort to mitigate the flood problem. And he suggests the need to build a huge dam in the capital city.

Many say this year’s floods could be worse than 2007, when more than half of the city was submerged and more than 300,000 people were displaced.

Authorities say the heavy rains are expected to continue.

Residents have been advised to stay at home, reduce electricity usage and not stockpile basic commodities.

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