Monday, January 21, 2013

Authorities battle floods in Indonesia

Friday has been busy for Indonesian authorities as they were working to repair a dike that collapsed amid floods that swamped the capital as the water progressively receded from the main streets of the packed city. Although Jakarta has long been prone to floods because it is a low-laying city on the sea, their situation worsen as their scale over the last ten years as infrastructure development has not kept pace with city’s growth. Worst situation is being experienced by other Asian cities like Bangkok and more especially Manila as they had been vulnerable to widespread floods in recent years. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, from the city's disaster mitigation agency, said electricity supplies had been cut to several areas to prevent electrocutions. Most deaths are because they were electrocuted or drowned. And as of yesterday, January 20, 2013, the death toll had risen to 14 after authorities pulled the three more bodies reported missing in the flooded basement of a building in central Jakarta. "Our focus now is to save more lives," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho added. Soon enough, life slowly got back to normal yet tens of thousands remained affected by the waters elsewhere in the city of 14 million people. The police and army deployed rubber boats to help evacuate or bring supplies to people, said Jakarta Police Spokesman Col. Rikwanto. Thursday after hours of rains that caused rivers and canals to burst their banks and flooded Jakarta, hundreds of soldiers used backhoes to attempt to repair a collapsed canal dike. Since 2007, this is now considered the most widespread when almost 80 died and more than half of the city as affected. And unlike 2007, Jakarta's downturn area was swamped this time around. At their peak, almost 250,000 people were affected by the floods, which covered about 30 percent of the city. Successive governments have done little to lessen the threat of flooding, the latest made worse by heavy downpours Wednesday and Thursday that added pressure to rivers already swollen by a long monsoon season. Some of the factors behind the floods are deforestation in the hills to the south of the city, chaotic planning and the rubbish that clogs the hundreds of waterways that crisscross the city. Corrupt city officials turn an eye to building violations and lack the skills and ability to build flood defenses. Indrado, a resident in Central Jakarta said, "We cannot only blame the government,” "We the people also have to support it by not littering rivers." “The floods should cause a rethink”, he further added.

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