Indonesia floods: Dozens dead in Papua province

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At least 58 people have been killed in flash floods in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua.

Rescue workers are struggling to reach remote parts of the province, and there are fears the number of dead may rise.

Roads have been blocked by landslides and fallen trees, and floodwaters have damaged two bridges and more than 100 houses.

More than 4,000 people have been forced from their homes, and some are sheltering in government offices.

Local residents said torrential rain began on Saturday evening and continued into the night, triggering mudslides and flash floods.

Five-month-old baby rescued from rubble
Image captionSoldiers pulled a five-month-old baby from the rubble

“Our house was flooded with thick mud… we immediately grabbed our valuables and ran to a neighbour’s [two-storey] house to seek refuge,” said mother-of-two Lili Puji Hastuti, quoted by Agence France-Presse.

“It’s hard to get out of the area because many roads are blocked… I’m worried, sad and scared all at once.”

The search for victims continues in the town of Sentani, one of the worst affected areas.

Fifty-one people were killed in the town, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, quoted by Reuters news agency.

The other seven confirmed deaths were in the nearby provincial capital Jayapura, Mr Nugroho added.

However, a five-month-old baby was rescued in the city after being trapped under the rubble for hours, according to the military.

Meanwhile a propeller aircraft was partly crushed on the runway of Jayapura airport.

Flooding is common in Indonesia, especially during the October-April rainy season.

In January, floods killed at least 70 people on the island of Sulawesi, and heavy rain in West Java earlier in March displaced hundreds.

Emergency officials say that in recent months they had warned the Papuan authorities of flood risks due to deforestation of mountains surrounding Jayapura.

Papua province borders the independent state of Papua New Guinea, to the east.

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