01/21/2013, 00.00
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Jakarta, flood emergency: 20 dead, thousands displaced and billions in damage

by Mathias Hariyadi
Almost 10% of the capital hit by floods. The President promises 200 million dollars for prevention, but entire business sectors are on their knees. The Christian community mobilizes to assist the homeless, churches open to the displaced. Catholic University of Jakarta, "it is faith" that leads to helping others.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Jakarta is tallying the damages caused by devastating floods in recent days that have left - according to the latest estimates - a total of 20 people dead. Jusuf Wanandi, head of the Association of entrepreneurs and businessmen (Apkindo) of the capital, reports losses in trade, for each of the four days of the emergency, amounting to 500 billion rupees (just over  50 million dollars ). Many shops and business have been forced to close, while about 20 thousand people were left homeless and are now in temporary shelters. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ensured that the Central Jakarta administration will allocate at least 2 trillion rupees (200 million dollars) in the coming months, to prevention work against new natural disasters.

The Governor of the Indonesian capital has launched the clean up operation, after days of absolute emergency. The situation remains critical and the most damage has been registered in business, with entire areas of the capital still paralyzed. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (Bnpb) reports that there are at least 8 thousand inhabitants who have contracted infections or diseases due to epidemics arising from flooding.

At least 41 square kilometers of the metropolitan area of ​​Jakarta, just under 10% of the total surface, were submerged, 74 districts, for a total of 31 sub-districts and five municipalities in the capital have been affected and more than 97 thousand houses damaged.

The crisis has also affected several areas inhabited by Catholic communities, with the faithful in the front row - even though they are a small minority - in disaster relief and bringing aid to the people (see AsiaNews 18/01/2013 Jakarta, Catholics aid flood victims). Among the areas that have suffered the greatest devastation is the administrative district of Pluit, North Jakarta. The Jakarta vice-governor (a Christian) Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, confirmed the "extensive damage" in the area caused by a real "wall of water".

After hours of uncertainty, Fr. Andreas Gunawan of the parish of Stella Maris in Pluit answered the appeals of the faithful, leaving the church and finding refuge on the upper floors of the building. Among the churches affected by the disaster there is also the St. Christopher in Grogol, West Jakarta, where "the water has reached the altar." In another parish in the area, Teluk Gong, the priest "opened" the doors of the building to provide a "temporary shelter" to the displaced. Meanwhile, dozens of Catholic organizations and associations in the capital continue the collection and delivery of aid and basic necessities to flood victims. "It is faith in Christ - says a woman - that drives me to do good for others."


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