Indonesia: Death count rises as Jakarta flood conditions worsen

At least 16 people are now dead as severe flooding hit Jakarta and surrounding area on New Year's Day, Indonesian authorities said on Thursday.

"Our data shows that 16 people have died as a result of floods," said National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo. Some of those who died were electrocuted.

Local media said that 18 were dead, while Reuters news agency put the death count at 21, citing a government source.

The flooding began on Wednesday after water inundated the Indonesian city after 18 hours of heavy rain. Homes were submerged and vehicles washed away.

A domestic airport also shut and tens of thousands of people were displaced, Wibowo added.

Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged at least 169 neighborhoods. More than 31,000 people are in temporary shelters. Floodwaters reached up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) in parts of the Indonesian capital.

Worst flooding since 2013

Around 120,000 rescuers were helping people evacuate on Thursday, according to Wibowo. As much as 37 centimeters (14.5 inches) of rain fell on Wednesday alone.

At Jakarta's domestic airport, the floods submerged a runway, causing 19,000 people to be stranded.

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan tweeted that the government would help all those affected by the floods.

Baswedan also told reporters on Wednesday that his administration would push ahead with infrastructure projects on two major rivers, including a dam and a sluice, to prevent flooding in the city of 30 million people.

Indonesia frequently experiences earthquakes and flooding. The current flooding is the worst since 2013 when dozens of people were killed in monsoon rains.

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ed/se (AP, dpa)