Sat, 21 Feb 2004

Jakarta flood claims three lives as alert level raised

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

At least three people are dead and three others missing after floods swept through Greater Jakarta on Friday after another overnight downpour.

The number of evacuees also increased while subdistrict offices began to set up temporary shelters for flood victims.

Floods also forced at least 117 schools in Jakarta and 52 in Tangerang to close their doors on Friday.

With many streets in the capital underwater, traffic was backed up around the city, including from Cawang in East Jakarta to Grogol in West Jakarta and along the Tangerang toll road.

Traffic on alternative routes forced Jakarta Police to close down some streets and to allow private cars to ignore the three- in-one traffic policy from Blok M in South Jakarta to Kota in West Jakarta, and along Jl. Gatot Subroto from the Park Royal Apartment in the west to the Kuningan intersection in the east.

The flooding forced Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso to declare the capital in Siaga 2 alert, the second highest state of alert, meaning officials are required to work in shifts to monitor developments.

Andri, 17, a resident of Kedoya, West Jakarta, died after he fell into the Pesanggrahan River on Friday at about 1 p.m. His body was recovered almost three hours later not far from where he entered the swollen river.

Agus Maruloh, 3, was electrocuted at his family's flooded house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, and Munah, 63, a Tangerang resident, also died as a result of the flooding.

In Sawangan, Depok, two 13-year-old boys, Donny and Reza, have been missing since Thursday when they were swept away by strong currents in the Angke River. On Wednesday, 16-year-old Muhammad went missing after being swept away in the Bekasi River.

The Jakarta Operation Coordination Board for Disaster Relief recorded an increase in the number of residents fleeing their homes.

In Kebon Jeruk subdistrict, West Jakarta, the number of evacuees increased to 2,650 on Friday from 2,500 the previous day. In Tugu Selatan subdistrict, North Jakarta, 138 people are taking shelter at a nearby sports stadium. At least 3,116 people are sheltering at a mosque in Kebayoran Baru subdistrict, South Jakarta.

In Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta, water from the Ciliwung River inundated 2,405 homes in five community units, forcing residents to evacuate to schools, a church and temporary shelters set up by concerned organizations.

Shanties along the river were also submerged by up to 270 centimeters of water.

Hundreds of residents, mostly women and children, are living in a shelter set up at the St. Maria Church, while the men braved the high water to save their possessions.

A medical center set up at the shelter reported that as of 3 p.m. on Friday, about 500 people had been treated for skin irritations and diarrhea.

About 500 people are taking shelter at a railway station in Semanan, West Jakarta, as water up to 200 centimeters in height submerged homes in the area since Monday. Many of the people at the station complained they had not received any food or medicine, saying all the aid went to 600 evacuees at a nearby mosque.

During a visit to flood victims in Bukit Duri, Sutiyoso said his administration had allocated Rp 501 billion (US$59.6 million) for flood victims.

"If that is not enough, we can disburse some Rp 800 billion in emergency funds from the city budget," he said, adding that the money would be used to evacuate flood victims, set up public kitchens and provide medical treatment.

Jakarta Social Welfare Agency head Syarifuddin Mahfudz said his agency had distributed over eight tons of rice, 30 boxes of instant noodles, 9,300 packaged meals, 208 blankets, eight tents, two boxes of cooking oil and 15 kerosene lamps.

Due to a lack of clean water, Jakarta Health Agency head A. Chalik Masulili warned citizens to anticipate possible outbreaks of diarrhea, leptospirosis and skin irritations.

In Tangerang, more housing complexes were inundated, particularly those located in the districts of Karawaci, Periuk and Pinang.

Although no residents have been forced to evacuate their houses, Tangerang Mayor Wahidin Halim ordered his officials to remain on the alert to help flood victims.

Related story and photo on page 8