Indonesia Seeds Clouds to Block Rain from Flooded Capital

    03 January 2020

    Indonesia's air force has seeded clouds with salt in an effort to stop rain from falling on the flooded capital, Jakarta.

    The seeding operation follows deadly flash floods and landslides that hit the capital after some of the heaviest rain ever recorded.

    Indonesian officials said that as of Friday, at least 43 people had been killed in the disaster. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

    Cloud seeding is a process that involves shooting salt into clouds in an attempt to create artificial rain. It is often used in Indonesia to help put out forest fires. The current operation aims to get the clouds to drop water and break up before they reach Jakarta.

    Indonesia's air force teamed up with the country's technology agency to carry out three rounds of cloud seeding on Friday. Officials said more cloud seeding would take place as needed.

    A man rides floats in a styrofoam box on a flooded street in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
    A man rides floats in a styrofoam box on a flooded street in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

    The latest flooding followed heavy rainfall on December 31 and into the early hours of New Year's Day. The water covered large areas of Jakarta and nearby towns. The area is home to about 30 million people.

    The start of 2020 weather was "one of the most extreme rainfall" events since record keeping began in 1866, Indonesia's weather agency said Friday. The officials said climate change had increased the risk of extreme weather. They warned that heavy rainfall could reach a high point in mid-January and should be expected to last until mid-February.

    News videos showed floodwaters spreading across Jakarta. Images showed groups of people walking through water and mud-covered cars, some of them sitting on top of each other.

    President Joko Widodo blamed delays in flood control projects for the disaster. Among the projects is the building of a canal that has been delayed since 2017 because of property right issues.

    In 2007, more than 50 people died in one of the capital's deadliest flood disasters. In 2015, floodwaters covered much of the city center after canals overflowed.

    Jakarta has been slowly sinking. A main cause is the amount of ground water being drawn out from under the city. Rising sea levels have made the threat of flooding even worse.

    Last year, Widodo announced he would move Indonesia's capital to East Kalimantan province on Borneo island to reduce the burden on overpopulated Jakarta.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Reuters news agency reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    displace v. to be driven out of a place

    canal n. an artificial river built for boats to travel along or to take water where it is needed