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JAKARTA, Indonesia – Seasonal rains triggered massive flooding in Indonesia's capital on Thursday, killing at least four people, triggering the evacuation of at least 20,000 and paralyzing much of the city.
Floods regularly hit parts of Jakarta in the rainy season, but the inundation following an intense rain storm was especially widespread. Few areas of the city of 14 million people were spared, with water levels up to 2-meters (6.5-feet) -high in some places. The main street through the city's business district was under around 50 centimeters (18 inches) of water, while waters also rushed into the presidential palace.
Traffic ground to a halt as floodwater washed into homes, offices, schools and roads. Most businesses didn't open for lack of staff.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the country's foreign minister were pictured standing in water up to their shins at the palace waiting for the arrival of Argentina's President Christina Kirchner, who is on a state visit. The meeting of the two leaders apparently went ahead.
Monsoon rains, deforestation in the hills to the south of the city, chaotic planning and hundreds of rivers and waterways combine to cause floods, which expose the country's poor infrastructure even as it posts impressive economic growth.