Storm waters that had receded washed back into many low-lying areas of Indonesia's capital today after overnight rain, piling on the misery...
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Overnight downpours sent storm waters coursing back into some low-lying areas of Indonesia’s capital today, but authorities said flooding had receded elsewhere, allowing more than 115,000 people to return home.
The death toll from days of flooding in Jakarta rose to 36 after more reports of fatalities were confirmed, a police spokesman said.
In scenes reminiscent of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, residents of Jakarta waded through poor neighborhoods in water up to their necks, or floated on makeshift rafts bearing clothes and other salvaged possessions. Some scrambled onto roofs to await rescue from soldiers and emergency workers in rubber dinghies from floodwaters as deep as 12 feet.
As authorities warned of the threat of diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery, anger mounted at the government’s response to the floods, which burst river banks throughout the city on Thursday, turning scores of districts, rich and poor alike, into lakes of muddy water.
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“The government is awful,” said Augustina Rusli, who spent four days on the second floor of her suburban house with her 10-month-old baby. “We have a neighbor who is sick with cancer, but no one has come to rescue her.”
Soldiers on boats delivered instant noodles and rice to those who were choosing to stay on the upper floors of their homes, refusing to evacuate out of fears looters might target their properties, said army Capt. Tohar.
“We live in modern times. People should have been warned,” said Stefanus Lamury, who lives in a flooded-out residential area close to the center of this city of 12 million people. “No one should have died because of this.”
Landslides and flash floods during the wet season kill hundreds in Indonesia every year, and the capital is not immune, but it has rarely — if ever — seen floods as bad as those in recent days. The high water washed into rich and poor districts alike, inundating markets, schools and businesses.
Authorities had estimated that up to half the city, which covers an area of more than 255 square miles, had been submerged in water reaching more than 13 feet deep in places. But they were not collecting and releasing timely information on the extent of the floods or river levels, making it hard to get a complete picture of conditions.
Residents in several districts said water levels dropped or receded late Monday only to rise again after heavy downpours overnight. Most of the renewed flooding was reported to range from about 20 inches to more than 6 feet deep.
Indonesia’s meteorological agency predicted more rain in the coming days, and officials warned that more floods were possible because river levels were still high.
The seasonal, torrential rains in Jakarta and the hills to the south forced rivers to overflow their banks Thursday. Some residents initially chose to stay in the upper stories of their homes, expecting the waters to quickly subside, but as the disaster dragged into Monday, some left for makeshift camps at schools and mosques, or to stay with relatives.
Environmentalists blame the annual flooding on trash-clogged storm drains and rivers, inadequate urban planning, and deforestation of hillsides south of the city, often to make room for luxury villas.