JAKARTA, March 21, 2019
The death toll from flash floods and landslides in Papua province of eastern Indonesia has exceeded 107 on Wednesday, while the search for 93 missing others is focusing on residential areas buried by mud, rubble and wooden logs, official and rescuers said.
Spokesman of joint command post for emergency relief efforts at the province Dodi Sambodo said that the natural disaster, which hit Jayapura district on the weekend, also left 84 people seriously injured and 75 others with minor injuries.
The disaster also forced 9,691 people to flee from home and took shelters at 20 evacuation centers, most of which were government office buildings, the spokesman said.
“Rains keep pouring down. Having shelters in buildings is favorable in this situation rather than tents. We plan to trim the number of the centers to six in order to pave distribution of aids,” he told Xinhua over phone from Jayapura district.
Meanwhile rescuers are searching victims at residential areas where many houses were buried by mud, wooden logs and rubble, said Yudi Yanto, spokesman of the search and rescue office.
“We believed many victims were buried under the mud, ruble and logs as we have retrieved several bodies from the areas,” he told Xinhua by phone.
In addition, the spokesman said, the search operation would be carried out at the entrance of a river to the Sentani Lake, as many victims were swept away by the current of the river.
The disaster also destroyed a total of 357 houses, over 100 buildings, four bridges, eight school buildings, five religious buildings and other infrastructures facilities, 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 at the upstream area of a river was blamed as one of the triggers of the catastrophe, according to the agency.
Governor of Papua Lukas Enembe said that deforestation at the upstream of rivers would be prohibited.
Indonesian environment ministry plans to conduct reclamation and reforestation in the areas to prevent recurrence of such disaster.
Indonesia has been frequently stricken by flash floods, floods and landslides during heavy rains. (Xinhua)