25 Mar 2019

Search and rescue ongoing in Papua as floods death toll hits 112

12:17 pm on 25 March 2019

Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency says the death toll from flooding in Papua province has risen to 112.

Flooding in Papua in March 2019

Flooding in Papua in March 2019 Photo: Jubi

Torrential rain triggered flash flooding and landslides over a week ago, causing Lake Sentani in Jayapura regency to overflow and numerous rivers to burst.

The Disaster Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 16,783 people had been affected by the flooding

Almost 4000 of them had taken up shelter at about 30 refuge points around Sentani and nearby Jayapura, Papua's capital.

He said the search was ongoing for about 90 people still missing, while over 100 people were seriously injured by the disaster.

But with continuing rain adding to surface flooding in recent days, Indonesia's military and police forces are still assisting response teams in evacuating affected communities.

The joint command post for emergency relief efforts told media the current focus is opening transport access to get aid distribution to those in need.

This involves clearing roads of debris, mud and rubble, and rebuilding temporary bridges.

According to the Disaster Agency, the flooding disaster damaged 357 houses, over 100 buildings, four bridges, eight school buildings, five religious buildings and other infrastructures facilities.

People recovering following the flooding in Jayapura.

A camp set up following the flooding in Papua Photo: Jubi

Local and national government officials have pointed blame at deforestation and land clearance for the flooding.

"Incessant heavy rains in the Cyclops mountainous area, whose condition had degraded, caused flash floods in Jayapura District and the surrounding areas," Mr Sutopo noted.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said communities living in the disaster-affected part of the Cyclops Mountain area would be relocated as part of a plan approved by Indonesia's president Joko Widodo.

Meanwhile, Indonesian media is reporting that persistent heavy rain has also triggered destructive flooding in West Papua province.

In particular, Manokwari district has experienced bridge collapses, and several homes have been hit by landslides and swept away.

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