At least 23 people were confirmed dead on Thursday and thousands were forced to evacuate, after severe flooding hit Indonesia’s capital as residents were celebrating the New Year.
Residents of Jakarta were soaked by torrential rains as they waited for New Year’s eve fireworks on Wednesday, Aljazeera reports.
Jakarta’s domestic airport was also shut, leaving almost 20,000 passengers stranded.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said on Wednesday that monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged at least 90 neighbourhoods and triggered a landslide in Kota Depok, a city on the outskirts of Jakarta.
Wibowo said the dead included a 16-year-old high school student who was electrocuted while more than 19,000 people were in temporary shelters after floodwaters reached up to three metres (10 feet) in several places.
Al-Latif Ilyas Darmawan, the father of the victim, said the rescuers could not save his son, Arviqo Alif Ardana.
“I did not know what had happened until his younger brother came and told me that his brother had died and when I came to the scene, people said that my child was electrocuted when he was holding a lamp post and tried to be rescued by local residents.”
The rescuers were unsuccessful and the teen died.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, BNPB, said that at least 16 people were killed including eight in the capital, Jakarta, and three in Kota Depok.
The country’s social affairs ministry, however, said that the death toll has already gone up to 21, adding that most of the deaths were recorded in Bogor. Two more deaths were later reported in the Lebak regency at the south end of Java island.
Experts said the rain was “not ordinary.”
“The rain falling on New Year’s Eve… is not ordinary rain,” the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said.
Television footage and photos showed cars floating in flood waters while soldiers and rescuers in rubber boats were struggling to evacuate children and the elderly who were holding out on the roofs of their houses.
Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan told reporters after conducting an aerial survey over the flooded city that as much as 370 millimetres (14.5 inches) of rainfall – more than three times the average amount – was recorded in Jakarta and West Java’s hilly areas.
Authorities warned flooding was possible until April when the rainy season ends.