Floods Cripple Jakarta And Whales Die On Madura

People push a cart transporting a motorcycle over floodwaters in Bekasi, West Java, on 20 February, 2021, following heavy overnight rains. (AFP Photo)

Whole neighbourhoods of Indonesia's capital Jakarta and dozens of major roads were flooded on Saturday after torrential rains pounded the Southeast Asian city overnight.

More than 1,300 residents have been evacuated to temporary shelters, with parts of the capital under four to nine feet (1.2 to 2.7 metres) of water.

Images showed rescuers on rafts battling to evacuate the elderly and children from submerged houses in hard-hit southern and eastern areas of the city, and dozens of cars were seen submerged on waterlogged streets.

National rescue agency spokesman Yusuf Latif said the floods were triggered by extreme downpours.

"The rainfall intensity is very high due to extreme weather in Jakarta and it's been raining since yesterday night," Latif said. 

"Our top priority is children as well as infants and the elderly."

No casualties have been reported so far, he added.

Jakarta, a megalopolis that is home to around 30 million people, is frequently hit by floods in the rainy season.

The city saw some of its deadliest flooding in years in January last year after downpours that also triggered landslides.

At least 67 people in Jakarta and nearby cities were killed in that disaster, with the floodwaters reaching the second floor of some buildings after rivers burst their banks.

Dozens Of Whales Dead

46 small whales stranded on a beach in Indonesia have died, after rescue efforts succeeded in saving three others, local officials said Friday.

Starting Thursday, at least 49 short-finned pilot whales arrived at a beach on Madura Island in northern Java, authorities said in a statement. 

Large crowds gathered as a rescue operation was launched, with volunteers using tarpaulins or just their bare hands to try to push the pod back out to sea.

Curious onlookers took pictures and touched the whales, while others tried to splash water on them. 

In the end, only three of the animals survived. 

"The live whales had to be released together as they live in a group," said East Java governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa in a statement.

Parawansa said that officials had taken samples of the carcasses for further investigation into the cause of death. 

He added that the corpses, which measure from three to five metres each, would be buried on the beach at low tide. 

Offshore cross-currents in the area pose a danger to whales, as they can get caught between reefs close to land. 

Pollution, abandoned nets and floating plastic waste are also dangers for marine animals. 

In July last year, 10 pilot whales were found dead near Kupang, a town in East Nusa Tenggara province.

In 2018, a sperm whale was found dead in Indonesia with more than 100 plastic cups and 25 plastic bags in its stomach, raising concerns about the Southeast Asian archipelago's massive marine rubbish problem. – AFP