Assistance to Jakarta flood victims delayed

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At least 50 people were killed and scores more were injured when a dam burst outside Jakarta on 27 March 2009, impacting at least 2,000 people in the industrial town of Cirendeu in Tangerang, Baten Province. At least 400 homes were affected. © Contributor/IRIN

JAKARTA, 21 January 2013 (IRIN) - Hundreds of people hit by recent flooding in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, say government assistance has still not arrived four days after the city governor declared a state of emergency following severe flooding triggered by days of heavy rain.

"We have not received any assistance since our area was flooded two days ago," said Rachmat Nasution, a resident of the Pluit Dalam area in West Jakarta. "Families have been trapped in their houses which are flooded as high as the neck," he told IRIN.

Some areas in West Jakarta have been inundated since 19 January after a major dyke broke. Flooding in other areas of the capital, including the central business district, peaked earlier on 17 January, bringing parts of the megacity of more than 10 million people to a near standstill.

Water in most areas except Pluit in West Jakarta has since receded.

Karyana, an official at Jakarta's Regional Disaster Management Agency who goes by one name, admitted that aid workers had not reached all trapped residents.

"We continue to deliver aid supplies to flood victims and reach areas [that] were previously isolated," said Karyana.

"But there are problems in some of the areas because some residents refused to be evacuated because they are afraid their possessions will be stolen.

"We have only received complaints from their relatives who don't live there and give confusing addresses," he said, explaining one reason behind hindered access.

As of 21 January the National Disaster Management Agency said flooding had killed 20 people, with causes of death including electrocutions, illnesses and drowning. More than 40,000 people have been displaced.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said aid supplies have reached those in need, but admitted shortcomings in health services. "There are displaced people who are sick and there's a shortage of health personnel in some areas," he told reporters. "We are sending health personnel to those areas."

The national weather bureau has predicted heavy rain in the coming days, expected to taper off in early February.

Jakarta is frequently hit by flooding, which is blamed partly on clogged rivers, sewers and drainage as well as poor city planning.

Heavy flooding in 2007 killed 57 people and displaced more than 420,000 in Jakarta. Authorities put the total damage that year at nearly US$695 million.