Jakarta cleans up after flood, thousands ill
12 Feb 2007 03:49:00 GMT
By Mita Valina Liem
JAKARTA, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Garbage trucks were out in force on Jakarta’s streets on Monday for a huge clean-up of the city after a devastating flood, while nearly 200,000 people were suffering from flood-related illnesses.
The vast majority of the ill were not hospitalised, the health ministry’s crisis centre chief told Reuters.
“Most of the displaced suffer from diarrhoea, dengue, severe respiratory problems. The number of out-patients is 190,000 and in-patients is 510,” Rustam Pakaya said.
Fears lingered that disease could spread as people stay in cramped emergency shelters or move back into houses often lacking clean water, plumbing and power.
However, Pakaya said: “We have reduced the number of (emergency) medical posts from 500 to 250 because most of the displaced have returned to their places.”
At the height of the flooding — caused by more than a week of serious rains in Jakarta and surrounding areas, which finally eased off last Friday — officials reported over 400,000 people displaced by the high water.
By Monday the figure had fallen to under 59,000 in Jakarta proper, National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management spokesman Suprawoto said.
Jakarta has nine million people within its city limits and another five million in the immediate area.
The flood killed 48 people within the city and 46 in adjacent West Java and Banten provinces.
Survivors face the monumental task of clearing their homes of debris and mud left behind by the receding water. In some neighbourhoods the mud was as much as two metres deep.
“Jakarta has dispatched 150 garbage trucks to remove debris, mud, and garbage from the flooded areas. Nine-thousand personnel from the army and the police department have been deployed to help clear the areas,” Suprawoto said.
“What we need is disinfectant, shovels, spades, hoes, school needs — uniforms, books and so forth — (and) wheelbarrows because garbage trucks cannot pass into small alleys,” he added.
Although relatively dry weather over the last few days has improved conditions in flooded areas, Indonesia’s rainy season has several weeks to run and could bring fresh downpours.
Officials and green groups have blamed excessive construction in Jakarta’s water catchment areas for making the floods worse, while a deputy environment minister told Reuters last week that climate change contributed to the problem.
Above low-lying seaside Jakarta are foothills that have lost much of their vegetative cover to logging and construction of homes and golf courses, making it harder for the ground to retain water from the deluges common in the rainy season.
Some economists and government officials have warned of an inflationary spike from the flooding, which also hit some retail and manufacturing operations.
However, Indonesia’s rupiah currency has held firm against the dollar, while at mid-morning on Monday the Jakarta Stock Exchange’s key index was down less than 0.2 percent.