Jakarta - Traffic ground to a standstill in parts of Jakarta on Thursday and thousands were displaced as floods triggered by days of heavy rain inundated much of the Indonesian capital.
The flooding also disrupted train and bus services and forced drivers stuck on submerged roads to abandon their vehicles.
Authorities were seeking to evacuate nearly 100 000 people whose homes had been submerged, said Johan Freddy, an official at the National Disaster Management Agency.
He said more than 10 000 people had been moved to temporary shelters while many others whose homes were flooded insisted on staying put, fearing their possessions would be stolen if they left.
“Our map shows that about 50 percent of Jakarta is under water, ranging from 25 centimetres to 4 metres,” he said.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's talks Thursday with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner were delayed because the presidential palace was under water just below knee height, his spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said.
Television footage showed Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa inspecting the flooding around the palace with their trousers rolled up.
Some residents climbed to rooftops while waiting for rescuers.
“My house is flooded knee-deep, so my family decided to move to a hotel room,” said Siti Aisyah, a Jakarta resident.
Two people died from electrical shocks Wednesday, the disaster management agency said.
The government would provide rubber boats and food and staff health centres to help those affected, Governor Joko Widodo said.
Jakarta, 40 per cent of which is below sea level, is prone to flooding during the wet season.
Severe flooding in 2007 killed 57 people and forced 422 300 to leave their homes in the capital. Officials put total damage at nearly $695 million.
Flooding has also hit other parts of Indonesia in the past few days.
In Semarang, the capital of Central Java province, a family of four were electrocuted on Wednesday night after their house was flooded, local media reported. - Sapa-dpa