Jakarta mounts rescue ops as flood death toll rises to 26

People wading through a flooded neighbourhood (top) in Tanggerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, yesterday. The neighbourhood, like many in Jakarta and its surrounding areas, experienced severe flooding (above) after the heaviest downpour in a single
People wading through a flooded neighbourhood (above) in Tanggerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, yesterday. The neighbourhood, like many in Jakarta and its surrounding areas, experienced severe flooding after the heaviest downpour in a single day in 24 years.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
People wading through a flooded neighbourhood (top) in Tanggerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, yesterday. The neighbourhood, like many in Jakarta and its surrounding areas, experienced severe flooding (above) after the heaviest downpour in a single
People wading through a flooded neighbourhood in Tanggerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, yesterday. The neighbourhood, like many in Jakarta and its surrounding areas, experienced severe flooding (above) after the heaviest downpour in a single day in 24 years.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Indonesian authorities have mounted an operation to evacuate and rescue thousands of people in Jakarta and its surrounding areas hit by severe flooding and landslides, after the heaviest downpour in a single day in 24 years.

At least 26 people have been killed and more than 30,000 left homeless by the disaster.

After a coordination meeting of various ministries and agencies yesterday, National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) head Doni Monardo said the government's top priority was to evacuate residents and attend to those injured.

Additionally, officials were helping to distribute food, medication and inflatable boats, while a health task force would deal with post-flood-borne diseases, including skin irritation and diarrhoea.

Work was also under way to help those hit by electricity supply cuts and facing shortages of clean water.

"This is an effort to collaborate and synergise all parties. Disasters are a shared concern and require... coordination across agencies to ensure that the flood is managed in a more integrated manner," Lieutenant-General Doni said in a statement.

The military has been mobilised to help in relief efforts. Nearly 3,700 troops in Jakarta, West Java and Banten provinces have been deployed as well as 50 rubber boats, 10 ships, five helicopters and 32 trucks. Police are also helping to evacuate victims in more than 260 locations around Jakarta.

Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara told reporters that 19 victims had been positively identified, adding that their families would each receive 15 million rupiah (S$1,460) from the government. The ministry updated the death toll to 26 yesterday evening.

Earlier yesterday, BNPB spokesman Agus Wibowo said the death toll could rise further. Many of the victims had succumbed to hypothermia, drowned or been electrocuted.

The heavy downpour began on Tuesday night and continued until Wednesday morning. The BBC, quoting the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, said 377mm of rainfall was recorded at the domestic Halim Perdanaku-suma Airport in East Jakarta, the most rain in a single day since at least 1996, when records supplied by the agency began. The airport's runway was closed temporarily, but flights had since resumed.

In a Facebook post late on Wednesday, President Joko Widodo ordered the Jakarta administration to work with related agencies "to save citizens and provide security to the community".

Indonesian rescuers evacuating a boy from a flooded area in Jakarta yesterday. Severe flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain over the New Year period have killed at least 26 people and left thousands more in the Indonesian capital and its
Indonesian rescuers evacuating a boy from a flooded area in Jakarta yesterday. Severe flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain over the New Year period have killed at least 26 people and left thousands more in the Indonesian capital and its surrounding areas homeless. In addition to rescue operations, relief efforts are under way to distribute food and medication as well as ensure electricity supply and clean water. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

 
 

On his Twitter page, the President blamed delays in flood control infrastructure projects for the flooding. He said some projects had been delayed since 2017 due to land acquisition problems.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who has been criticised on social media for the floods, yesterday posted on Instagram that 120,000 Jakarta officials were rendering aid to affected residents.

He said the city administration was setting up health posts, public kitchens and evacuation points to provide medication, ready-to-eat meals and drinking water, among other things, to victims.

"We respond quickly, we provide assistance, and at this time we don't want to blame anyone and anything. Now is the time to ensure that citizens are safe, citizens are protected and all basic needs are met," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Jakarta mounts rescue ops as flood death toll rises to 26'. Print Edition | Subscribe