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Indonesia flash flood death toll rises

March 18, 2019

At least 77 people are now known to have died in flash floods and mudslides in Indonesia's eastern Papua province, the disaster agency says. Two more people died in an earthquake on Lombok island.

Wreckage of vehicle in Sentani
Image: Getty Images/AFP/N. Somba

Indonesia's disaster agency on Monday raised the death toll from flash floods in the country's easternmost province, saying at least 77 people had died.

Scores were injured and more than three dozen left missing after torrential downpours sent flash floods and mudslides through mountainside villages in Papua, the agency said.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said rescue efforts had been hampered by the destruction of roads and bridges in several areas of Jayapura district after days of fierce rain.

Read moreDisaster-prone nations threatened by huge insurance gap 

Rescuers carrying a stretcher
Rescuers are scouring the area for survivorsImage: Basarnas via Reuters

State of emergency

The worst-hit area was Sentani subdistrict, where rescuers evacuated more than 4,000 people after a river burst its banks early on Sunday morning, according to an official from the local disaster agency.

In a stroke of good fortune, soldiers managed to save a 5-month-old baby from rubble inside a house and reunite him with his father. The mother and siblings were killed in the disaster, a military spokesman said.

Indonesia has declared a 14-day state of emergency in response to the disaster.

Flooding in Sentani with collapsed houses
Houses in Sentani collapsed in the delugeImage: Getty Images/AFP/N. Somba

Deadly earthquake

In a separate incident, an earthquake on the popular Indonesian tourist island of Lombok on Sunday triggered a landslide in which two Malaysians, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed.

Dozens of people, including Malaysian tourists, were rescued from the area surrounding the Tiu Kelep waterfall, according to disaster agency spokesman Nugroho. The waterfall is situated in the foothills of the active volcano Mount Rinjani.

Forty-four people were injured and some 500 homes damaged in the 5.5 magnitude quake, Nugroho said.

Lombok, which is just east of Bali, was struck by a major quake last August that killed more than 300 people and left thousands homeless. 

Indonesia's location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire means it suffers frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Read more: Ring of Fire: Five facts about the most earthquake prone region in the world

tj/ng (AP, AFP)

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