Jakarta: The death toll in flash floods and landslides in Papua province of eastern Indonesia crossed 107 on Wednesday, while the search for 93 missing persons shifted to residential areas buried under mud, rubble and wooden logs, officials and rescuers said. The natural disaster, which hit Jayapura district on the weekend, also left 84 people seriously injured and 75 others with minor injuries, spokesman of the joint command post for emergency relief efforts in the province Dodi Sambodo said, reported Xinhua news agency.
The disaster also forced 9,691 people to leave their homes and take shelter at 20 evacuation centres, most of which were government office buildings, the spokesman said. “Rain keeps pouring down. Having shelters in buildings is favourable in this situation rather than tents. We plan to trim the number of the centres to six in order to pave (the way for) distribution of aid.”
Meanwhile, rescuers are searching for victims in residential areas where many houses were buried under mud, wooden logs and rubble, said Yudi Yanto, spokesman of the search and rescue office. The search operation will also be carried out at the entrance of a river to the Sentani Lake, as many victims were swept away by the strong currents of the river, he added.
The disaster also destroyed 357 houses, over 100 buildings, four bridges, eight school buildings and other infrastructure, according to the national disaster management agency. Flash floods have been frequent in the remote Papua province, but the one on Saturday evening was among the worst. Deforestation in the upstream area of a river was blamed as one of the triggers for the catastrophe, according to the agency. Indonesia has been frequently stricken by flash floods and landslides during periods of heavy rain.