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Indonesia's Capital Under Water as Flooding Worsens

About two-thirds of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, is under water. Heavy seasonal rains have caused massive flooding, leaving at least 25 people dead and more than 350,000 homeless. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins reports from Jakarta.

Government workers used rubber boats Monday to rescue people from flood-stricken parts of the capital while others sought safety at makeshift shelters in schools and mosques. Electricity and water is cut off in many parts of the city and floods block dozens of major roads.

Although seasonal rains bring floods annually to Jakarta, this is the worst flooding in the last five years. Many people here are angry and say the government is not doing enough to help those in need.

Jaya, a coordinator with the country's largest Islamic organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama, sits on a busy street distributing food, water, and clothes to victims.

He says the government is not helping enough with the basics of food and shelter, and this is why his organization has to help the people.

A nearby mosque is filled with hundreds of people forced to flee their homes by water up to four meters high. Thirty four year old Pagor ties supplies to an inner tube that he will use to swim back to his house.

He says he came to the mosque to get food and water and will now swim back to where he and 17 family members are living on the roof, guarding their home against looters.

His story is repeated all over this sprawling capital of 12 million people, with poor and rich alike fearful to leave flooded homes because of the threat of looting.

Warini says she and her family of seven have lost everything and have come to the mosque for shelter. Her small baby is sick and she fears for the health of her other four children.

She says her house is submerged in water and she does not know when she and her family can return home.

The sun came out briefly Monday prompting many to scramble to dry out bits and pieces of papers and clothes, in a desperate bid to salvage some of their belongings.

Facing heavy criticism by many Jakarta residents for failing to prepare for the annual rains and flooding, city governor Sutiyoso called the disaster a "natural phenomenon" and said he cannot be held responsible.

The government has sent medical teams on rubber rafts to the worst hit areas of the city over fears disease may spread among people living in squalid, unsanitary conditions with limited or no access to clean drinking water.

Indonesia's meteorological agency says heavy rains will continue to inundate Jakarta over the next two weeks.