Parts of Indonesian capital swamped by tidal wave

A 2,2m high tidal wave inundated parts of Jakarta overnight as the city government and citizens tried to hold the water back with emergency embankments, a government official said on Wednesday.

The height of the water was far greater than earlier predictions. The World Bank, which has been monitoring flooding and tidal waves in Jakarta, warned last week of a 1,2m tidal surge in parts of the city.

Authorities in the capital, home to more than 10-million people, had been bracing for high tides with sand bags and wire netting filled with stones.

The tidal wave swamped areas near the coast for a few hours, leaving hundreds of people stranded in their homes, but the main highway leading to the airport was not affected.

Jakarta is often flooded in the rainy season and it can also be inundated by high tides in areas near the coast and in low-lying districts.

Flooding caused by heavy rains also frequently cuts off a stretch of the airport highway, leading to massive traffic jams and flight delays.

”We are still using emergency [embankments], using river rocks and sand bags, because the permanent embankments will only be finished in July or August,” Budi Widiantoro, the deputy head of the Jakarta Public Works Agency, told Reuters.

He said the water had risen to 2,2m on Tuesday night.

Some experts say flooding in Jakarta, which killed 50 people during the wet season in 2007 and triggered more chaos in February this year, is caused by reclamation of swamp areas.

The city public works agency is raising the height of seven embankments to help reduce the flooding, while toll road company PT Jasa Marga is building barriers to prevent further flooding. – Reuters 2008

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