Indonesian soldiers spray disinfectant to battle disease as death toll passes 60, with thousands more living in emergency shelters.
Mudslides and power blackouts have hampered the search for people missing in massive floods in Indonesia’s capital, where more than 60 people have died and some of the tens of thousands of evacuees are living in damp, cramped emergency shelters.
More than 1,000 soldiers and health workers sprayed disinfectant in hard-hit areas on Sunday to fend off the spread of disease. Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged a dozen districts in the greater Jakarta area after extreme New Year’s Eve rains, causing landslides in hilly areas on the outskirts of the capital that buried scores of people.
It’s the worst flooding in the area since 2007, when 80 people were killed over 10 days. More rain is forecast, with the potential for more extreme rainfall in the next month.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said on Monday that the death toll from flash floods and landslides in and around Jakarta had risen to 66 and rescuers were still searching for two people reportedly missing in Lebak, a district in neighbouring Banten province.
Flash floods and mudslides have swept away or damaged more than 2,000 houses in several villages in Lebak district. Zainal Arifin, a local search and rescue agency chief, said rescuers were still searching for a seven-year-old boy reportedly dragged away by flash flooding that killed at least nine people.
He said mudslides that covered much of the area, blackouts and lack of telecommunications were hampering search efforts.
About 11,000 health workers were deployed to provide medical care for people affected by the flooding, the health minister, Terawan Agus Putranto, said in a statement. He said there had been no recorded cases of serious waterborne diseases, after disinfectant spraying started Sunday.
Waters have receded in most parts of greater Jakarta, allowing many residents to return and clean up, but scores of tightly packed settlements close to rivers that often suffer from floods during the rainy season remained inundated or covered in mud and debris.
Government data on Monday showed some 35,500 people were still unable to return home after houses were submerged in filthy waters up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) high.
In an emergency shelter at a sports centre in south Jakarta, mothers breast-fed their babies near piles of smelly wet garbage.
A temporary clinic was treating patients close to where Yuniarti was sleeping, including many suffering from respiratory illnesses.
Indonesia’s meteorology agency said more downpours were forecast for the capital in coming days, and that the potential for extreme rainfall would continue until next month across the vast archipelago nation.
Indonesia is hit by deadly floods each year, and this year’s have been particularly bad in Jakarta, with nearly 400,000 people seeking refuge in some 270 shelters across the greater metropolitan area as floodwaters reached up to 6 meters (19 feet) in some places.