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Jakarta Floods Spark Fears of Disease


Public-health authorities in Jakarta are concerned about the risk of disease outbreaks in Jakarta, following the flood disaster in the Indonesian capital.

Floodwaters have begun to recede, but huge areas of the city of nine million remained submerged late Tuesday, and up to two more weeks of rain is expected.

Nearly 300,000 people are still unable to return to their flood homes, and a police spokesman says the death toll from five days of floods in Jakarta and surrounding areas has risen to at least 44.

Health officials say supplies of medicine to combat waterborne diseases are running low, and many of the wells used to provide drinking water have been contaminated.

The European Union said Tuesday it is donating nearly $800,000 to help flood victims. The money will be used for basic necessities, such as food, clean water, clothing, and blankets, emergency latrines and water-purification plants.

Many of Jakarta's residents have criticized the government's response to the deluge as inadequate. The national environment minister, Rachmat Witoelar says poor urban planning and over-building in natural drainage areas was responsible for the city's inundation.

Officials have raised their flood-damage estimate to $452 million.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.