Floods in Indonesia: the death toll in Papua

At least 58 people were killed in floods in the Indonesian province of Papua, according to a new report announced Sunday by the disaster management agency.

Floods in Sentani, about 20 kilometers from the provincial capital of Jayapura, were caused by torrential rains on Saturday. Seventy people were injured and 4,150 evacuated.

“The number of victims and the impact of the disaster are likely to increase as rescue teams continue to attempt to gain access to other affected areas,” said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“It's a landslide” upstream of the area “that seems to be at the origin of the floods,” he said.

A significant number of houses were damaged. And if the water level begins to decrease, evacuations continue.

“Relief teams are evacuating but they have not reached all the affected areas because of fallen trees, rocks and mud” that block the lines of communication, detailed Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Video footage of the area showed rescuers oxygenating a victim trapped by a fallen tree.

Soldiers cleared a five-month-old baby who had been trapped for hours under debris, said army spokesman in Papua Muhammad Aidi. But we do not know where his parents are.

Uprooted trees and a lot of debris litter the roads, while at Jayapura airport a small plane appears damaged by the floods. The airport of the regional capital remains open, said however the Ministry of Transport.

Lilis Puji Hastuti, a 29-year-old woman living in Sentani, said she had to flee when water flooded her house up to her knees.

“We immediately took our business and went to seek refuge with our neighbor,” she told AFP.

The mother of two said she feared “in addition to floods, landslides, because we are right at the foot of the mountain”.

Dozens of wounded were transported to a tent where doctors come to their aid, an AFP journalist said.

The government declared a state of emergency for 14 days, police chief Victor Dean Mackbon said.

Floods are common during the rainy season in Indonesia from October to April.

In January, at least 70 people were killed in floods and landslides in the south of the island of Celebes.

In recent weeks, hundreds of people have had to evacuate around the Citarum River in West Java Province due to flooding.

The Indonesian province of Papua is located west of the island of New Guinea, the other half of which is shared by Papua New Guinea, a former Australian colony that has become independent.

It is one of the poorest regions in Indonesia, and the scene of sporadic clashes between separatist rebels and the army.

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