61 killed as flash floods hit Indonesia's Papua province

Vehicles submerged in mud following a flood in Sentani, Indonesia, over the weekend, in this photograph taken by Antara Foto. The floods in Sentani were triggered by torrential rain and landslides on Saturday.
Vehicles submerged in mud following a flood in Sentani, Indonesia, over the weekend, in this photograph taken by Antara Foto. The floods in Sentani were triggered by torrential rain and landslides on Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAYAPURA (Indonesia) • Flash floods in Indonesia's eastern Papua province have killed at least 61 people as rescuers race to help dozens of other victims of the disaster.

The floods in the town of Sentani, near the provincial capital of Jayapura, were triggered by torrential rain and landslides on Saturday.

Dozens have been injured and more than 4,000 people have been displaced as a result of the floods.

A spokesman for the Papua Provincial Police Senior Commissioner Ahmad Kamal was quoted by Antara news agency as saying 61 people have died as of yesterday evening.

Earlier, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 51 people were killed and 74 injured in Sentani.

"Our house was flooded with thick mud ... we immediately grabbed our valuables and ran to a neighbour's (two-storey) house to seek refuge," said Ms Lilis Puji Hastuti, a 29-year-old mother of two young children in Sentani. Tents have been set up to take in flood victims and treat the wounded.

In Jayapura, where the heavy rain has caused landslides, seven people have died.

"The number of casualties and impact of the disaster will likely increase as search and rescue teams are still trying to reach other affected areas," said Dr Sutopo.

Uprooted trees and other debris were strewn across muddy roads, while at Jayapura's small airport, a propeller plane lay partly crushed on a runway.

 
 

In Doyo, one of the most affected areas in Jayapura, a housing complex was littered with huge rocks believed to have rolled down from a nearby mountain, according to an AFP reporter.

Video footage showed rescuers administering oxygen to a victim who appeared to be trapped beneath a fallen tree.

Papua military spokesman Muhammad Aidi said a five-month-old baby was pulled alive from under the rubble of his house and taken to hospital.

About 4,150 people are sheltering in six evacuation centres, Dr Sutopo said.

Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea on an island just north of Australia. Flooding is common in Indonesia, especially during the rainy season which runs from October to April.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2019, with the headline '61 killed as flash floods hit Indonesia's Papua province'. Print Edition | Subscribe