JAKARTA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Heavy monsoonal rains triggered severe flooding in large swathes of the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Thursday, with many government offices and businesses forced to closed because staff could not get to work.
Weather officials warned the rains could get worse over the next few days and media reports said that thousands of people in Jakarta and its satellite cities had been forced to leave their homes because of the torrential downpours this week.
“For the next two or three days it is estimated that there may be increasing activity of the Asian Monsoon which could increase weather activity in southern Sumatra and Java,” said Soepriyo, an official at the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency.
An estimated more than 100 mm (12 inches) of rain had fallen overnight in the capital. This year’s rainy season has brought some of the heaviest downpours for five years.
In the centre of Jakarta, whose streets overflow with vehicles at the best of times, traffic was brought to a near standstill by waist high flood waters.
The city’s main airport remained open but many roads leading there were reportedly blocked. Most commuter train services and the bus system were closed.
The Jakarta Stock Exchange did open but trading was light.
The presidential palace, the finance and agricultural ministries and the central bank were all open, spokesmen said.
However, the trade ministry said it was forced to close because of a power cut triggered by the flooding.
Reporting by Michael Taylor and Rieka Rahadiana, writing by Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by Michael Perry