6 Oct 2010

Tension feared to hamper Papua flood relief

3:42 pm on 6 October 2010

An Australian-based human rights advocate says tensions between security forces and people in the flood-hit area of West Papua could hamper relief efforts.

At least 86 people have been killed and many more remain missing after torrential downpours led to flash flooding in the Teluk Wondama area near Manokwari in the Indonesian province.

Nick Chesterfield from West Papua Media says he's heard medical personnel are stretched to the limit, and university students and local people are mobilising to help.

But he says the shooting in the area of a priest, his son and his wife, two weeks ago by Indonesian police may affect attempts by the authorities to assist.

"There's not much trust between the Indonesian security forces, government agencies and the people in Manokwari at the moment. There's a very strong possibility that people might work together in adversity or they might not. It depends entirely on how important the central government thinks this is."

Nick Chesterfield says illegal logging and planning issues may have been factors in the localised flooding.