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Jakarta Flood Refugees Return Home as Quake in Aceh Kills One

Jakarta residents began to return home a week after flooding inundated houses across the Indonesian capital, while an eight-year-old girl died as a 6-magnitude earthquake struck Aceh province on Sumatra island.

The number of refugees in Jakarta fell to about 33,500 from nearly 46,000 yesterday, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman at the nation’s disaster management agency, said. The death toll remained at 20 with some victims swept away by swollen rivers or electrocuted in their homes, he said.

“Although the water has receded, a number of people chose to stay at refugee shelters,” Nugroho said in a mobile-phone text message today. “The government, the local administration, the business community and local people are working hand in hand to provide aide to the flood victims.”

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo is confronting his first major test since his election in September as floods in the capital highlight infrastructure gaps in Indonesia’s largest city. The inundation disrupted businesses, stranded travelers and swamped the offices of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a city that accounts for 16 percent of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Flights at Jakarta’s main international airport are operating normally, with no flood-related delays, Kristanto, a spokesman at the airport’s operator PT Angkasa Pura II, said by telephone today. Passengers and airline crews are aware of the situation in Jakarta and have allotted more time to get to the airport, he said.

Jakarta sits in a low-lying area with 13 rivers and more than 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of man-made waterways, making it prone to flooding, according to the World Bank. About 40 percent of Jakarta’s land area is below sea level.

In Aceh the earthquake today caused several several houses to collapse, killing the girl and injuring seven other people, Nugroho said in a separate mobile-phone text message. The province, located on Sumatra’s westernmost tip, was hit by an 8.6-magnitude quake in April that killed at least 10 people and injured 12 others.

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