JAKARTA – The death toll from heavy rains that have struck the eastern Indonesian province of Papua has risen to 104, while 79 people were missing, authorities said on Wednesday.
Torrential rain has pummeled the region since Saturday, triggering floods and landslides.
Seven of the victims were killed by a landslide in the provincial capital city of Jayapura, while the rest of the victims died in floods which struck the city of Sentani after heavy rains on Saturday night, spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho for the National Agency for Disaster Management said.
Forty bodies have been identified and are set to be buried in a mass grave after a funeral on Thursday, Sutopo said.
Floods have affected five districts in the municipality of Jayapura, all of them situated in the floodplains at the base of the Cycloop mountains.
The disaster has resulted in 160 people being wounded – out of which 86 are in a critical condition – and 9,691 people being displaced to 18 temporary shelters in Sentani, which are facing lack of essential materials due to problems in distributing aid and in some cases have been overcrowded.
Sutopo said that the increase in the number of displaced people was due to trauma and fear of more floods.
According to Protestant priest Steven Halim, who lives in Jayapura and is assisting the victims, the force of water was so powerful that it uprooted “rocks the size of cars” and entire trees, while in some low-lying areas of Sentani the flood water was still chest-high.
“Some houses are flat and you can only see the foundations,” Halim told EFE over the phone.
More than 2,000 personnel from various agencies were collaborating in the search and rescue operations and providing treatment and assistance to the survivors through mass kitchens and improvised medical centers, as well as other measures.
Halim said the rain has continued to lash the region every night since Saturday. On Wednesday it has been raining the entire day, causing the Sentani lake to overflow its shores, blocking roads and confining families to their houses.
Floods and landslides affect Indonesia each year during the rainy season which peaks between December and February.