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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Floods in Jakarta Kill 20, Displace Nearly 200,000

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Floods in the Indonesian capital have killed at least 20 people and made nearly 200,000 homeless, with the deluge of muddy brown water up to 4 meters deep in some areas, officials said Sunday.

Downpours over Jakarta weakened over the weekend, but heavy rain in upland areas sent more water into already swollen rivers crisscrossing the low-lying city.

Floods are common in Indonesia during the rainy season, but the devastation of recent days has been the worst in five years, and meteorology officials have warned that the city could suffer another week of heavy rains.

Officials are also concerned that the displacement of so many people and water contamination could bring disease in a city already struggling with a surge in cases of dengue fever.

"Twenty have died since the first day of flooding. Seven were dragged under by strong currents, nine were electrocuted and the others because of sickness," I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana, a Jakarta police spokesman, said.

A key sluice gate on a canal that runs through central Jakarta was opened because of heavy runoff from upstream, an official said, increasing the flooding in the city.

Rustam Pakaya, a health ministry official, said workers were distributing eight tons of baby food, milk and other food.

In many parts of the city, sandbags were being prepared in a bid to shield buildings. Some flood victims sheltered in the lobby of the five-star Borobudur Hotel.

"This is the first time flooding has hit my area. People have evacuated to the mosque," said Taufik Hamdani, 48, of the Matraman neighborhood in central Jakarta.

He said he planned to take his family to a safer location.

An official at the central government's natural disaster center said that, as of Saturday evening, data showed 189,665 people were homeless in the capital and surrounding areas.

The official said public transport in Jakarta remained disrupted and some train lines had been cut outside the capital.

The floods also caused major power blackouts and telephone lines were down in some parts of the city of 9 million as flooding affected underground cables.