Unexpected floods kill 50 in Jakarta

Extensive flooding in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has left at least 50 dead and over quarter of a million people homeless.

Unseasonably heavy rains left the capital under several feet of water, crippling the economy and sending residents running for the hills.

Those with the resources to do so have fled the city in their tens of thousands, to stay with family or in rented accommodation outside the affected area.

Poor sanitation and an overburdened sewer system mean that disease is now a major concern and Jakarta has faced international criticism over its slowness to start dealing with the problem.

A junior environment minister in the Indonesian government, Masnellyarty Hilman, has been quick to blame the flooding on climate change saying that warmer than usual seas had heated monsoon winds which led to the extreme rainfall.

“It’s a natural phenomenon affected by climate change. It’s been made worse by negligent behaviour,” she said.

“According the meteorology agency, rainfall was at up to 250 millimetres on Thursday and Friday. It was an extreme phenomenon.”

Water levels began to fall by the end of Tuesday and citizens who believed they had been more or less left to fend for themselves as the authorities failed to address the emergency matched on the Governor’s office demanding his resignation.

Families of those who have lost relatives in the flooding have been told they will be entitled to a little over US$200 each in state benefits whilst the damage to property is expected to run to US$0.5 billion.

Indonesia is due to host a meeting of UN environment ministers in December to discuss climate change.

Sam Bond

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