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Massive floods hit Jakarta after exceptionally heavy rainfall, several million left without power, at least 53 killed


Massive floods hit Indonesian capital Jakarta on January 1, 2020, killing at least 53 people and forcing tens of thousands to evacuate. Several million were left without power and drinking water. The deaths were a result of hypothermia, electric shocks, landslides, and drowning.

According to Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), in just 24 hours from December 31 to January 1, three rainfall monitoring stations recorded from 259 to 377 mm (10.2 – 14.8 inches) of rain — the highest rainfall intensity in more than 20 years. On average, Jakarta sees 203.2 mm (8 inches) of rainfall during the entire month of December.

Floodwaters were as high as 2 m (6.5 feet) in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek), authorities reported.

The weather disrupted land and air traffic and vital services, leaving millions of people without power, drinking water, and the internet for several hours.

At least 21 commercial flights were disrupted at Halim Perdanaksusumah airport in East Jakarta.

More than 62 000 people were evacuated in Jakarta alone.

Perusahaan Listrik Negara, a state utility company, said power supply was cut off in 724 locations in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Bekasi and Tangerang to avoid exposing people to electric shock.

Power was gradually restored for some areas at 18:00 local time, but more than 3 300 of 23 700 distribution substations remained shut down.

14 people were confirmed dead on January 1. By the morning of January 2, the number rose to 23 and to 53 on January 4.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported 11 deaths in Bogor City, 11 in Bogor Regency, 7 in East Jakarta, 7 in Lebak Regency, 3 in Depok City and 3 in Bekasi City. Other fatalities occurred in Tangerang, South Tangerang, Bekasi Regency, and Central and West Jakarta.  BNPB said the deaths were a result of hypothermia, electric shock, landslides, and drowning.

Major floods regularly hit Jakarta during rainy seasons due to its location in the basins of several major rivers.

The capital is overcrowded, gradually sinking and forecasted to face water scarcity by 2040. These are reportedly the main reasons why the government decided to relocate the nation's capital to the East Kalimantan province on Borneo Island.

Construction on the new site is expected to start in 2021, while the first residents are likely to relocate in 2024.

Featured image credit: JMA/Himawari-8, RAMMB/CIRA. Acquired at 09:00 UTC on January 1, 2020

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  1. Why don’t people walke up to the fact if they continue to breed themselves out of food and water resources without restraint or legislation, then they will suffer the same fate that animals do, who, by lack of brain capacity are unable to prevent births except by eating their own young which they will often do in food scarcity. Many herd animals will also drop dead from lack of food. Why would we, as a human species visit this fate upon our own young?

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