JAKARTA – The death toll due to floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in Indonesia’s eastern province of Papau has risen to 89, authorities said on Tuesday.
At least 74 people are missing amid an ongoing search and rescue operation, Disaster Management (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
Some 6,800 people have been displaced and nearly 160 injured in the disaster, according to Sutopo.
The rain-triggered floods and mudslides have affected 11,725 families in Sentani, Sentani Occidental and Waibu districts, the spokesperson said.
Eighty-two people died in the city of Sentai and its surrounding areas due to flooding triggered by heavy downpour that lasted seven hours on Saturday night.
Seven people died due to landslides in the provincial capital of Jayapura.
Sutopo said in a statement that the toll has been increasing because the disaster has been widespread.
The floods have severely damaged 350 buildings, eight educational centers, two churches, a mosque and three bridges in Sentai, which is situated at the base of the Cyclop Mountains.
More than 1,600 personnel from 23 government agencies and civil organizations have been taking part in relief work and trying to reach areas where access has been cut off due to the floods.
The 15 shelters set up in different parts of Sentai were in urgent need of drinking water, blankets, clothes, electric generators and mental health services, according to Sutopo.
The head of search and rescue agency Basarnas, Bagus Puruhito, said they needed heavy machinery to search and evacuate victims as the road connectivity has been snapped.
The emergency response services are expected to continue at least until March 30, according to BNPB.
The western half of the island of New Guinea, where the province of Papua is located, belongs to Indonesia and is a territory rich in natural resources, although underdeveloped, while the eastern part belongs to the Republic of Papua New Guinea.
Floods and landslides affect Indonesia each year during the rainy season which peaks between December and February.
The country is one of the most disaster-prone in the world as it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activities, where some 7,000 earthquakes, mostly moderate, are recorded each year.