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Hundreds of Thousands Flee as Flooding in Jakarta Kills 53

Arys Aditya, Tassia Sipahutar and Harry Suhartono

(Bloomberg) -- At least 53 people have died from the New Year’s Day flooding in Indonesia, and hundreds of thousands were evacuated, as the greater Jakarta area suffered the most intense rain in 24 years.

More than 400,000 people, mostly from Bekasi, east of Jakarta, fled their homes with one person still accounted as missing, the agency known as BNPB said. Some people in evacuation centers have returned to their houses as flood water receded and power was restored, according to Kompas TV.

State-owned electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara said power supply is back on at 95% of the affected area. Rainfall on New Year’s eve was the most in 24 years, according to the nation’s weather agency, and the resultant calamity surpassed damage caused by flooding in 2013 and 2007.

Operations at Halim Perdanakusuma, the city’s second-biggest airport and the air force base in the capital, returned to normal on Thursday.

Still, parts of Jakarta and surrounding areas remain flooded and without electricity after rainfall of as much as 377 millimeters a day since New Year’s eve. The weather agency expects the adverse weather to persist in the next two weeks.

The economic cost from the calamity could reach 16 trillion rupiah ($1.15 billion) and inflation could pick up, Wellian Wiranto, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore, wrote in a note on Friday.

PT Indah Kiat Pulp & Paper, a unit of the Sinar Mas Group, said on Friday that the smallest of its three factories was affected by floods. The plant and the assets are insured, the company told the stock exchange.

President Joko Widodo ordered government agencies on Thursday to prioritize security and rescue measures. The disaster mitigation agency said it will implement weather modification on Friday to reduce the intensity of rain in the Jakarta area.

Read more on why Indonesia is shifting its capital from Jakarta

The government will deploy almost 300 personnel to assess how it can prevent another severe flooding as the weather agency forecasts heavy rain on Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono told reporters on Friday.

The new capital that Indonesia will build on the island of Borneo will be flood proof, Hadimuljono said.

“While the government may be even more keen to shift its capital city now, the flood is a reminder that the host of issues facing Jakarta – whose metropolitan area is home to 30 million Indonesians – remain acute,” Wiranto said.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to show the right unit)

(Updates with new death toll, statement from electricity company)

--With assistance from Eko Listiyorini, Yoga Rusmana, Fathiya Dahrul, Rieka Rahadiana, Philip J. Heijmans and Karthikeyan Sundaram.

To contact the reporters on this story: Arys Aditya in Jakarta at aaditya5@bloomberg.net;Tassia Sipahutar in Jakarta at ssipahutar@bloomberg.net;Harry Suhartono in Jakarta at hsuhartono@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Thomas Kutty Abraham at tabraham4@bloomberg.net, Clarissa Batino, Yudith Ho

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