Authorities in Indonesia have seeded clouds in an effort to prevent more torrential downpours that have devastated the capital Jakarta.
Flash floods and landslides have destroyed 60,000 homes and killed at least 43 people in the city after nearly 15in of rain fell in one day.
In a bid to prevent more devastation, the Indonesian Air Force flew planes to drop salt on approaching rain clouds to break them up before they reached the city, Reuters reported.
The air force teamed up with Indonesia’s technology agency BPPT to carry out three rounds of cloud seeding. The two small planes dropped salt on rain clouds above the Sunda Strait. A third plane was reportedly loaded and on standby if more rain clouds were seen threatening the city.
“All clouds moving toward the Greater Jakarta area, which are estimated to lead to precipitation there, will be shot with NaCl (sodium chloride) material,” BPPT said in a statement.
It is not the first time Indonesian authorities have used cloud seeding to deal with natural disasters. According to the Guardian, they often use the method to try to catalyze rainfall to help put out forest fires during the dry season.
The deluge, which happened on New Year’s Eve and led to the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents, is only the latest flooding to beset the Indonesian capital, which is slowly sinking into the Java Sea. In 2007, for example, flooding killed more than 50 in Jakarta.
The city’s problems with flooding, which experts say are being made worse by climate change, have become so serious that Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, last year announced that the capital would move to East Kalimantan on Borneo.