Much of the Indonesian capital is under waist-high water, after several days of unusually heavy monsoon rains caused floods that forced thousands to seek shelter.
Rising flood waters in Jakarta forced many government offices and businesses to close Thursday. Many roads were unpassable in the low-lying, flood-prone city of 14 million.
Forecasters warn the rain could get worse in the coming days, adding to what has been one of the city's heaviest downpours in years.
Authorities said water levels at key floodgates in the city already were dangerously high, and they warned the floods could spread to other areas.
At least four people have been killed and 20,000 people have been evacuated from the capital and its suburbs, where floods are not unusual during the rainy season.
Residents of Kampung Melayu look at the flood waters on a bridge, South Jakarta, Indonesia, January 17, 2013. (K. Lamb/VOA)
But Ari Fadli, a student in the capital, says the flooding is worse than usual.
"This time the floods are bigger than previous ones. I think we should have a big drainage tunnel like in other countries, so it would not flood again like this," Ari says.
Jim Della-Giacoma, who also lives in Jakarta, tells VOA it was not safe enough for the employees at his non-governmental organization, the International Crisis Group, to go to work.
"The flooding is quite extensive across the city," says Della-Giacoma. "The first thing that I did this morning when I saw how bad it was when I dropped the kids off at school was to go back home and do not even try to get to the office. And I told everybody to stay at home."
Seasonal downpours cause dozens of landslides and flash floods each year in Indonesia, a vast chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.