Rising Sea Disrupts Flights in Indonesia

Zakki Hakim in Jakarta, Indonesia
Associated Press
November 27, 2007

Global warming is partly to blame for flooding in Jakarta that has forced thousands of evacuations and cut off a highway to the international airport, Indonesia's environment minister said Tuesday.

Authorities pumped out some of the water, which was 23 feet (7 meters) deep in the worst hit areas and washed more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) inland Monday, said Iskandar, an official at Jakarta's flood crisis center. At least 2,200 houses were inundated, some with chest-deep water.

"I haven't seen it this bad in several years," said Toki, a police officer who was directing traffic around a flooded area near Sukarno-Hatta International Airport, where thousands of passengers were stranded.

Indonesia's environment minister, Rachmat Witoelar, said part of the problem is global warming, which causes sea levels to rise and may make coastal cities like Jakarta especially vulnerable to flooding and monsoon storms.

Authorities also ignored warnings about exceptionally high tides, part of an 18-year cycle, flood expert Jan Japp Brinkman told the Jakarta Post newspaper, adding that the situation was exacerbated by the failure to fix a sea barrier breached more than a week ago.

The flooding came as Indonesia prepared to host next month's UN climate change conference, which aims to start negotiations on a replacement for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.

A sprawling archipelago, Indonesia is among the largest contributors of carbon dioxide emissions, due to its rapid pace of deforestation. Experts say the country is also at risk of becoming one of the biggest victims of global warming.

——

Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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