16 dead, thousands caught in flooding in Indonesia's capital

NINIEK KARMINI
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Indonesia Floods

Indonesian people wade through floodwaters in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Severe flooding hit Indonesia's capital just after residents celebrating New Year's Eve, forcing a closure of an airport and thousands of inhabitants to flee their flooded homes.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Severe flooding in Indonesia's capital as residents celebrated the new year has killed at least 16 people, displaced tens of thousands and forced an airport to close, the country's disaster management agency said Thursday.

Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged at least 169 neighborhoods and caused landslides in the Bogor and Depok districts on Jakarta's outskirts, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said.

Video and photos released by the agency showed cars floating in muddy waters while soldiers and rescuers in rubber boats helped children and elders forced onto the roofs of flooded homes.

The floods inundated thousands of homes and buildings in poor and wealthy districts alike, have forced authorities to cut off electricity and water and paralyzed transport networks, Wibowo said.

More than 31,000 people were in temporary shelters after floodwaters reached up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) in places, Wibowo said.

As much as 37 centimeters (14.5 inches) of rainfall was recorded in Jakarta and West Java's hilly areas on New Year's Eve, causing the Ciliwung and Cisadane rivers to overflow, Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan told reporters after conducting an aerial survey over the flooded city.

He said 120,000 rescuers were helping people evacuate and installing mobile water pumps as more downpours were forecast. He vowed his city administration would complete flood-mitigation projects on the two rivers.

Director General of Civil Aviation Polana Pramesti said the floods submerged the runway at Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusumah domestic airport, forcing it to close and stranding some 19,000 passengers.

Flooding was possible until April, when the rainy season ends. Flooding also highlights Indonesia's infrastructure problems as it tries to attract foreign investment.

Jakarta is home to 10 million people and 30 million live in its greater metropolitan area. It is prone to earthquakes and flooding and is rapidly sinking due to uncontrolled extraction of groundwater. Congestion is also estimated to cost the economy $6.5 billion a year.

President Joko Widodo announced in August that the capital will move to a site in sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo island, known for rainforests and orangutans.