Nearly ton killed in flash floods in Indonesia

About a ton people have died and many are missing Sunday in flash floods in the Indonesian province of Papua following heavy rains. At least 4,000 are reported to have displaced.

Flash floods hit the town of Sentani causing landslides and rains slamming into homes. National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the toll is to increase as rescue teams are yet to reach all the affected areas due to fallen trees and damaged bridges.

According to local residents the torrential rain started Saturday evening and triggered mudslides. Videos circulated on social media shows waters rushing through streets.

Papua police said flooding was exacerbated by cutting of trees in the hills above the worst hit Sentani where nine houses is reported to have been washed away.

However, flooding is common between October and April in Indonesia. Papua is Indonesia’s poorest province and a data reveals 28 percent of the people there live below poverty line. It is easternmost province of the country with some of the worst literacy and infant mortality rates in Asia. It is rich in natural resources and has a reputation as Indonesia’s Land of Gold. To the east it borders independent state of Papua New Guinea.

Earlier this year floods killed seventy people on the island of Sulawwesi. Hundreds of people were displaced this month in West Java due to heavy rain.

Military said the search team rescued a five-month-old baby in the provincial capital Jayapura after being trapped for hours under the rubble. His father has survived but whereabouts of his mother is unknown.

Paul Linus