Tuesday, June 3, 2008

World Bank warns tidal flood may engulf Jakarta today

source: AP via Yahoo! Malaysia News
JAKARTA, Indonesia (5/30/08) - The World Bank has warned that an exceptionally high tide could inundate the Indonesian capital next week (6/3/08 -ed.), forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and cutting off a major highway.
The situation _ exacerbated by global warming and the fact that Jakarta is sinking up to 2 inches (6 centimeters) a year _ could mean that the flooding will exceed last November's roof-high levels in the hardest-hit areas, said Hongjoo Hahm, the bank's infrastructure expert.
"This is just the beginning," Hahm said, as he pointed to homes reaching a mile (1.5 kilometers) inland that will likely be affected next Tuesday (6/3/08 -ed.) and Wednesday (6/4/08) -ed.) by the 18-year semiannual tide cycle. "It's getting worse and worse."
The 18-year high tide cycles occur when the sun and moon are in direct alignment and making their closest approach to the Earth. Other factors, such as global warming or El Nino and La Nina, have made the sea swells even larger in recent years, Hahm said.
The government should consider building a dike to protect Jakarta Bay, he said, "but that will cost billions of U.S. dollars."
Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation, is one of the world's largest contributors of carbon dioxide emissions, because of the rapid pace of deforestation. But experts say the country is also at risk of becoming one of the biggest victims of climate change.
Rising sea waters especially pose a threat to coastal cities like Jakarta, which has sunk at least 7 feet (2 meters) in the last three decades because of excessive ground water extraction, said Hahm.

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