20 Dec 2005

Deathtoll from famine in Indonesia's Papua now 80 - reports

9:16 am on 20 December 2005

Reports from Indonesia say 80 people have died of hunger in the province of Papua.

Local church leaders and health officials say severe hunger has struck hundreds of residents living in seven subdistricts in the Yahukimo regency since September.

The newspaper Suara Pembaruan reports dozens of people are falling seriously ill.

The Yahukimo chief Ones Pahebol said the death toll from starvation had risen to 80, up from 57 reported over the weekend.

Some 55,000 people in the regency are said to be without any stocks of their staple food of sweet potatoes, because of heavy rains earlier this year.