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Asia Minute: Jakarta Faces Severe Flooding

Markus Spiske from Pixabay

While catastrophic fires continue in Australia this week, another natural disaster is striking elsewhere in the Asia Pacific. Flooding in Indonesia has killed dozens of people this week, and forced tens of thousands from their homes.

It’s been more than ten years since it’s rained this much in Jakarta — pretty much nonstop from New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day in some places.

Some locations are breaking records.

“Rainfall intensity” measures how much rain falls in a day. And at one government observation post in East Jakarta it hit nearly 15 inches – the highest level since they started keeping records 24 years ago.

Flooding has been severe.

The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management said Thursday that more than 62,000 people have been evacuated to temporary shelters. Dozens have been killed — most swept away by floods, but others have been buried by landslides or electrocuted by downed power lines.

The Jakarta Post reports electricity was cut to several parts of the capital city area because of safety concerns.

Jakarta is prone to flooding, but authorities say a combination of factors has made this unusual — including monsoon season and a high amount of water vapor in the air.

Flooding in the city has gotten worse in recent years, in part because the city of some 30 million people is sinking. That’s one reason that President Joko Widodo is making plans to move the national capital to the province of East Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.

As for the weather, forecasters warn that rain could continue until the weekend.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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