JAKARTA, Indonesia — Torrential rains caused flooding that paralyzed much of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Thursday, resulting in the deaths of at least four people and forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands of others.
Parts of the capital were under at least 6 feet of water, and even the presidential palace was flooded. In the central business district, water levels rose to at least 18 inches. Cars, buses, and motorcycles were stranded in the streets, and soldiers in rubber boats rescued people trapped in their homes.
‘‘This is the worst I’ve ever seen it,’’ said Yudi Sukarno, 40, who lives in the Bendungan Hilir neighborhood. ‘‘There’s all this asphalt and concrete, so the water doesn’t have anywhere to go.’’
Local news broadcasts showed images of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono standing shin-deep in water at the presidential palace.
‘‘It’s OK if the palace is flooded,’’ Yudhoyono said. ‘‘What is important is that the people are protected.’’
Thirteen rivers run through Jakarta, but poor drainage caused by garbage and the depletion of wells in a city already at or below sea level has intensified the impact of the flooding. The problems have recently been exacerbated by deforestation outside the city, which allows rainwater to flood in.
In central Jakarta on Thursday, muddy torrents filled major roads as evacuees tramped through waist-deep water in one central neighborhood.
Flood walls in one neighborhood collapsed, inundating neighborhoods in east Jakarta. Residents in one area there were forced to the second levels of their homes.
The Indonesian Meteorological Agency said heavy rains were expected in the Jakarta region for the next three days.
“Because of the rain’s intensity we’ve declared an emergency situation from now until Jan. 27,’’ said Jokowi Widodo, the governor of Jakarta.
New York Times