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New Year's Eve flooding kills 16, displaces thousands in Jakarta

New Year's Eve flooding kills 16, displaces thousands in Jakarta
Torrential rains and overflowing rivers flooded dozens on neighborhoods in Jakarta, Indonesia, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Photo by EPA-EFE/ADI WEDA

Jan. 1 (UPI) -- New Year's Eve celebrations turned deadly overnight on Tuesday in Jakarta, Indonesia, as torrential rains and overflowing rivers triggered flooding in the capital and surrounding area, killing 16 and displacing thousands.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo told reporters that at least 90 neighborhoods were submerged by floodwaters. The heavy rains -- nearly 15 inches, according to Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan -- triggered a landslide in Depok, a city just outside Jakarta.

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Of the 16 victims, eight were in the capital Jakarta, four in Keasi city and two deaths were reported in Bogor and Tangerang regions, the agency said Thursday in an update. Most of the deaths were the result of hypothermia and drowning.

"Currently, BNPB continues to collect data from various sources and [there is] the possibility of increasing the number of victims," the agency said in the statement, referring to itself by its initials.

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More than 120,000 rescue workers have been deployed to assist residents in evacuations and install water pumps. Authorities warned schools and local offices that the emergency may require the use of their facilities to shelter and care for those displaced by the floods.

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Baswedan said a total of 19,109 residents have been evacuated to higher ground.

"I want all the officials in the Jakarta administrations to make sure that all government buildings and schools are ready to be used as evacuation shelters," Baswedan said. "Prepare public kitchens, healthcare posts, medicines, sleeping mats, public toilets and other basic needs for evacuees."

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The torrential downpours brought transportation in the region to a standstill, as floodwaters submerged roads, railways and runways.

Jakarta's airport has been closed since midnight on New Year's Eve, and the Transportation Ministry's air transportation director-general Polana B. Pramesti said officials can't predict when the water will recede enough to allow flights in and out of the Indonesian capitals to resume.

According to Bloomberg News, the state-run electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara reported electricity outages in at least 700 areas in greater Jakarta.

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Jakarta, Indonesia's largest city, is sinking and regularly experiences flooding during the wet season, but the floods that rang in the New Year are the worst the city's experienced since 2013.

The risk of extreme flooding is expected to get worse as the city sinks and sea levels rise. As Business Insider reported last year, officials want to spend billions of dollars to both fortify the region's major rivers and relocate many of the most flood-prone parts of the city. The relocation efforts could see hundreds of thousands of people moved, but the plans are likely to take more than a decade to complete.

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