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Racing to prop up Asia's sinking cities

Land subsidence could mean severe flooding for emerging urban areas

As land sinks, such cities as Jakarta will experience more severe flooding.

JAKARTA -- Vast sections of Southeast Asia's cities could sink below sea level in the coming decades as residents draw up groundwater faster than it can be replenished, leaving governments scrambling to prevent flooding on a massive scale.

The Indonesian capital of Jakarta grapples with some of the severest land subsidence in the world. Land in the city sank around 200cm on average between 1900 and 2013, according to Dutch research organization Deltares. The problem is even worse in the city's northern section, which abuts the ocean. Some 40% of the city is already at or below sea level, in the so-called zero-meter zone.

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