Jakarta starts 2020 with worst floods in years

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Indonesian people wade through floodwaters in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP)
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Residents of Jakarta and its suburbs spent New Year’s Eve fleeing from the worst flooding the Indonesian capital has experienced in years. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 January 2020

Jakarta starts 2020 with worst floods in years

  • State electricity company PLN had to cut off power supplies to flooded neighborhoods
  • State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II suspended operations at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta

JAKARTA: Residents of Jakarta and its suburbs spent New Year’s Eve fleeing from the worst flooding the Indonesian capital has experienced in years, with more rainfall than the flood of February 2007 that resulted in 80 deaths and around $400 million of property damage.

Torrential rain pounded the greater Jakarta area on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, submerging residential areas, sweeping away cars, and inundating the runway of one of the city's airports. The floods have already claimed the lives of nine people and displaced thousands of others, authorities said on Wednesday.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said in a television broadcast that more than 19,000 people have fled their homes and efforts to evacuate those still trapped inside their houses were underway. He said the worst-affected areas were in East Jakarta and South Jakarta.

Agus Wibowo, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said the floodwater reached a depth of between 30 and 200 centimeters in the greater Jakarta area, including satellites Bekasi and Tangerang.
According to the agency, at least 41 areas in Jakarta, 54 in Bekasi, and eight in neighboring Banten province have been inundated.

“Yesterday’s rainfall was very intense, more intense than normal. As much as 377 millimeters of rainfall was recorded in areas around Halim and East Jakarta. The seawater level also increased, delaying the flow of water from inland out into the sea,” BNPB head Doni Monardo said. Rainfall of 340 millimeters was recorded during 2007’s flood, according to BNPB data.

Greater Jakarta is home to about 30 million people, of whom 10 million are Jakarta residents. One of them, Acum, who lives in Kemang, South Jakarta, told Arab News: “The floods reached about one meter, up to my chest, since the rain started to pour yesterday.”
Komariah, a resident of Tegal Parang, a densely populated neighborhood in a low-lying part of South Jakarta, said that water was up to her neck. “The water went up quickly and by 3 a.m. we were inundated. It has now subsided, and we are left with cleaning the mud,” she said.

Video clips and photos circulating on social media platforms and messaging apps show that both poor and upscale neighborhoods have been affected. State electricity company PLN had to cut off power supplies to flooded neighborhoods, while commuter trains connecting Jakarta with its satellite cities have been temporarily grounded.
State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura II suspended operations at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta. All flights have been diverted to the city's main airport, Soekarno Hatta International in Banten.
Forecasts suggest that extreme weather will continue to affect Jakarta, the rest of Java, and Indonesia’s eastern provinces for the remainder of the week.

 


UK vaccine frontrunner could be available in first half of 2021

Updated 8 min 56 sec ago

UK vaccine frontrunner could be available in first half of 2021

  • Human trials of the vaccine will expand to hundreds more people in the “coming weeks.”

LONDON: A leading British scientist has said a Covid-19 vaccine could be rolled out across the country as early as the first half of next year.

Professor Robin Shattock leads the team working on Imperial College London’s vaccine, one of the UK’s two most promising research programs. He told Sky News: “We anticipate if everything goes really well, that we'll get an answer as to whether it works by early next year.

“Assuming that the funding is there to purchase that vaccine, we could have that vaccine rolled out across the UK in the first half of next year.”

Shattock also warned that there was “no certainty” that any of the vaccines currently being developed would work, but said the risk of that is “very, very low.”

Imperial College London is now conducting human trials of their vaccine, with 15 volunteers having received it so far. Shattock said this will be ramped up in the “coming weeks” to include another 200 to 300 patients.

“I think we're very lucky in the UK that we have two very strong candidates, the one from Imperial, the one from Oxford, and so we’re pretty well placed, but there's still not a certainty that either of those two will work,” he said.

Oxford University is also developing a vaccination for Covid-19, in partnership with British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

While Shattock said he hopes Imperial College London’s vaccine will be available for the whole of the UK in the first half of next year, it is unclear how long it would take for it to be available outside of the country.

The UK, European Union and the US have all invested huge sums into vaccine development, and struck deals with pharmaceutical companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars each to ensure first-in-line access to successful vaccinations.

However, international organizations such as the UN, International Red Crescent and Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders have raised concerns that the world’s poorest countries will be unable to access vaccinations and effective Covid-19 treatments due to rich countries outspending them.