Jakarta residents survey flood damage
By Associated Press
Saturday, February 10, 2007 – Updated: 08:21 AM EST
JAKARTA, Indonesia – The death toll from massive flooding in Indonesia rose to 80 on Saturday, as some 140,000 people returned to their sodden homes in the capital to clear away piles of mud and rancid debris.
Rivers overflowed in some parts of the sprawling city, much of which remains under water following last week’s flooding, the worst in recent memory. But electricity and phone service have been restored to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in recent days.
Many returning residents who have been living in shelters or relatives’ homes for days surveyed the damage to their washed out houses for the first time on Saturday.
”My home and everything in it was washed away,” said Titi Komala, a 38-year-old widow and mother of three. ”Now everything is gone and I can’t do anything about it. If I had money I’d move, but I have nothing.”
Floods in Jakarta and its surrounding cities last week killed or have been cited as a factor in the deaths of at least 57 people. Some were electrocuted but most drowned, the government said.
Twenty-three others also died in neighboring Banten and West Java provinces last week, said National Disaster Management Coordination Board deputy chief Tabrani, who goes by one name.
At the peak, officials said about half of Jakarta was covered by up to 12 feet of water. Hundreds of square miles of land, mostly rice fields, surrounding the city remained inundated.
Estimates of those made homeless in Jakarta topped out at more than 400,000 out of a population of 12 million. Rustam Pakaya, chief of the Health Ministry’s crisis center, said about 140,000 people returned to their homes Saturday.
High water levels had prevented sanitation officials from picking up the garbage that piled up in the streets of some densely packed low-income areas, mixing with the black water during overnight rain.
That has intensified fears about diseases, with the government saying three people have contracted leptospirosis, a potentially fatal disease borne by water contaminated by rat urine. So far no cases of tetanus or other serious waterborne disease have been reported.
Fire-trucks will be deployed Sunday to spray disinfectant in hard-hit areas.
”Residents are complaining about the stench and flies,” said Joko Triyanto, an official at the Jakarta Health Department, as hundreds of soldiers helped clean knee-deep mud from the streets, houses, schools and places of worship.
Indonesia is hit by deadly floods each year, and Jakarta is not immune. But this year’s have been particularly bad, with some 100,000 homes, shops and businesses swamped in rich and poor areas alike.
The flooding in the capital has caused an estimated $460 million in damage. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week promised to seek more funds from the state budget to cover the cost of trying to prevent similar events in the capital in the future.
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