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6/02/2008

World Bank warns tidal flood may hit Jakarta

Indonesia
Tidal flood may hit Jakarta - The World Bank warned Thursday that an exceptionally high tide could inundate the Indonesian capital this week, forcing thousands of people to flee homes and cutting off the highway to the international airport. The situation - exasperated by global warming and the fact that Jakarta is sinking up to 2 inches a year - could mean flooding will exceed last November's roof-high levels in the hardest-hit areas. "This is just the beginning." Homes a mile inland will likely be affected Tuesday and Wednesday by the 18-year semiannual tide cycle. "It's getting worse and worse." Indonesia is one of the world's largest contributors of carbon dioxide emissions, thanks to the rapid pace of deforestation. 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 in the last three decades because of excessive ground water extraction. Eventually, the government should consider building a Dutch-styled dike to protect the Jakarta Bay, "but that will cost billions of U.S. dollars." 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.
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