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Flooding death toll rises

Authorities warn of disease outbreaks

Flooding death toll rises
The flooding has brought devastation to tens of thousands
Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

January 21, 2013

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A provincial health agency today warned that flooding in Jakarta, which has so far killed 20 people since last week, now poses a severe risk of disease for tens of thousands of people taking refuge in emergency shelters.

Drowning, electrocution and water-borne illnesses were among the chief causes of death in the flood, said Dien Emmawati, head of Jakarta’s provincial health agency.

Dozens of medical students from the state-run University of Indonesia and the private University of Trisakti, along with hundreds of nurses and students from hospitals and nursing schools have joined the agency’s 400 medical workers at more than 60 emergency health outposts.

Many of the flood victims are suffering from water-borne diseases and skin rashes, Emmawati said, adding that the spread of malaria and other insect- and animal-borne illnesses was also a concern for health workers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the provincial administration of Jakarta to monitor the incidence of disease closely and ensure that flood victims have access to clean water.

“Floods do not necessarily lead to an immediate major increase in mosquito numbers, but it is important to track weekly case numbers and provide laboratory-based diagnoses to pick up the early stages of an epidemic,” said Khanchit Limpakarnjanarat, WHO representative to Indonesia, in an interview with the Jakarta Globe.

The WHO has also urged the distribution of fact sheets informing victims about how to avoid the most common ailments associated with flooding, including diarrhea, skin infections, influenza, conjunctivitis and leptospirosis.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said that about 43,000 people across the capital have taken refuge in emergency shelters.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised the allocation of two trillion rupiah (US$208 million) to an emergency fund to combat flooding in the province during a visit with Governor Widodo to a shelter in East Jakarta yesterday. 

Provincial officials said flood waters have begun to recede, but areas of north Jakarta remain under water.

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