Jakarta teeters on tidal flooding disaster as thousands remain stranded


Heavy monsoon rains have caused severe flooding around the Indonesian capital Jakarta killing at least 12 dead and displacing thousands.


Ed Wray

Jakarta could face tidal flooding if its northern sea wall collapses in the coming days, as thousands remain stranded in shelters throughout the city. 

The floods, which began last Thursday, have ground the city to a halt, the Jakarta Globe reported. Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's palace was affected, flooding for the first time in history. 

An official said Friday that the city's northern sea wall could leak or collapse if the flood levels continued to rise, according to the Jakarta Globe

Jakarta has 13 rivers flowing into it, and is located on low-lying swampland. Forty percent of the city is below sea level, making Southeast Asia's largest metropolis especially prone to flooding, Xinhua reported

"The main problem is actually not the tidal flood walls," the official Tarjuki said. "When heavy rains falls over Puncak and Jakarta, the water will have difficulty flowing into the sea and that will mean that there will be stagnant water inland in Jakarta. The water from Puncak and from local rains would remain on land. Hopefully this does not happen." 

Meanwhile, around 14,000 people were still hiding out in 90 flooding shelters throughout the city, and many have refused to leave for fear of renewed flooding, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency. 

The government has created a special task force to check on walls or embankments that are in critical condition, the Globe reported.

Indonesians, however, remain unsatisfied with the government's response to the frequent disasters. A poll by the University of Indonesia's Center for Political Studies found that 22 percent of Jakarta's residents said flooding was the city's second biggest problem that the new governor needed to resolve, Xinhua reported. 

At least 12 people have died in the flooding so far; the Bangkok Post cites the death toll at 26. 

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