5 Oct 2010

Dozens reported dead in West Papua floods

9:42 pm on 5 October 2010

Rescue workers are searching for dozens missing people following devastating floods in Indonesia's West Papua province.

Reports emerging from the Teluk Wondama district say the death toll has reached 26 after flash floods smashed through the remote region following torrential downpours.

The floods have damaged buildings, and destroyed crops and irrigation systems in the area.

The National Search and Rescue Agency has dispatched a 12-man team with a 150-seat rescue boat to the area.

Relief teams have also been deployed to deliver relief goods to people, many of whom are displaced, in the hardest-hit areas.

Meanwhile, the head of the Indonesian delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross, Phillip Charlesworth says its difficult to establish how widespread the damage is

"Reports are sketchy in terms of destruction to houses in particular, but clearly from reports we've received in some cases the surges of water have been reported as high as two to three metres so clearly there will be some destruction of houses, particularly those proximate to the rivers that have flooded."

Dozens of people are reported missing but many transport routes have been blocked, making access difficult for rescue teams.

Phillip Charlesworth says establishing links to West Papua is already difficult without the devastation of the flooding.

As far as other organisations in the area go, Papua is a very sensitive area for the Indonesia government and not many organisations are allowed to work there at the moment. So getting information out is difficult at best.

He says his delegation has the capacity to cope with the flooding, and has sent in kits, tarpaulin and blankets.