Jakarta floods
Jakarta and surrounding districts have struggled to cope since a storm on New Year's Eve left large areas underwater. Image Credit: Reuters

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Tens of thousands of Indonesians were still unable to return to their waterlogged homes Saturday after flooding hit the Jakarta capital region, killing at least 53 people, authorities said.

More than 170,000 people took refuge in shelters across the massive urban conglomeration – home to some 30 million – after whole neighborhoods were submerged.

Torrential rains that started on New Year's Eve unleashed flash floods and landslides in the region and neighbouring Lebak at the south end of Java island.

Jakarta floods
Many people remain missing. The Indonesian disaster management agency said it was using inflatable boats to rescue stranded families. Image Credit: Reuters

On Saturday, Indonesia's disaster agency said the death toll had climbed to 53 with one person still missing.

"We've discovered more dead bodies," said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo.

Officials would be visiting the homeless Saturday in the hardest-hit areas, he added.

Shelters filled up with refugees, including infants, resting on thin mats as food and drinking water ran low.

Some had been reduced to using floodwaters to clean themselves and dishes.

"We badly need clean water in this shelter," Trima Kanti said from one refuge in Jakarta's western edges.