Jakarta’s Heavy Rainfall Persists as Death Toll Reaches 11

Heavy rain was forecast again for Indonesia’s capital as floods that began three days ago claimed 11 lives in the city.

Five people died of electrocution, four elderly victims died of hypothermia or illnesses, and two children drowned since flooding began on Jan. 15, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman at the National Agency for Disaster Management, told reporters in Jakarta today. More than 18,000 people in the city of 9.6 million have been evacuated from their homes, he said.

“Rainfall with high intensity may be ongoing until this weekend,” Nugroho said. Water levels rose in the neighboring city of Depok and the resulting surge was headed toward Jakarta.

The floods have disrupted businesses, stranded travelers and swamped the offices of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Consumer prices may rise because of disruptions in food distribution, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said in Jakarta today, adding that the government is working to ensure smooth deliveries.

A state of emergency in the capital, which contributes about 16 percent of Indonesia’s economy output, will stay in effect until Jan. 27, Governor Joko Widodo said yesterday.

6 Percent Flooded

The seasonal floods are affecting 41 square kilometers (16 square miles) of Jakarta, representing about six percent of the city’s total land area. In 2007, floods submerged 232 square kilometers and forced the evacuation of 320,000 people, Nugroho said.

Some of Jakarta’s electricity relay stations were shut for safety reasons, disrupting power supplies in residential areas, said Bambang Dwiyanto, spokesman at state utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara. About 1,300 relay stations were shut down today, compared with 800 yesterday, he said. Jakarta has 19,000 relay stations.

Indonesia’s floods are not affecting industrial areas and will have a limited impact on banks, Citigroup Inc. analyst Ferry Wong said in a report today. The overall economy will face a limited impact if the heavy rains stop now, he said in the report.

Demand for home improvements, pharmaceuticals and noodles will increase, while distribution and logistics businesses will be impacted, according to the report.

Jakarta sits in a low-lying area with 13 rivers and more than 1,400 kilometers 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.

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