At least 50 persons were killed and dozens seriously injured after flash floods hit Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua, Reuters quoted authorities as saying on Sunday. In a statement, the country’s national disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said a search operation was underway to locate the missing persons and the toll could rise.
“The number of casualties and impact of the disaster will likely increase as search and rescue teams are still trying to reach other affected areas,” AFP quoted him as saying.
Nugroho said the town of Sentani near the provincial capital Jayapura was hit by flash floods and subsequent landslides after torrential rainfall on Saturday. The floodwater damaged at least nine houses, two bridges and a small plane parked at the region’s main airport. Nugroho said the Sentani airport, the province’s main transport hub, had stayed open.
“We have told local authorities to be careful of floods or flash floods considering forest destruction that has been happening in the Cyclops mountains,” he said. The mountain range is located near Jayapura.
Nugroho said dozens of homes were damaged by floodwater and more than 120 residents were taking shelter at government offices. “The joint search and rescue teams are still doing evacuations and not all affected areas have been reached because of fallen trees, rocks, mud and other material,” he said.