|Many homes were destroyed as the flash floods hit the remote area in West Papua province [AFP]|
Flash floods and mudslides hit mountainside villages in eastern Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 75.
Officials said the number of dead in West Papua province could rise even further as rescue efforts picked up steam on Wednesday, with the arrival of security forces and 13 tons of relief supplies.
Seventy-five bodies have been pulled from the mud and the wreckage of crumpled homes, according to Dortheis Sawaki, who heads local relief operation. Several others are reported missing.
Another 90 people were hospitalised, many with broken bones. Some had to be evacuated by helicopter and, as nearby hospitals became overwhelmed, others were taken by ship to neighbouring provinces.
“There are just too many injuries,” Sawaki said, adding that some medical facilities have been hit by power outages. “We can’t handle it alone.”
More than 2,000 people were seeking shelter in government buildings and makeshift camps.
Days of torrential downpours have triggered the floods which submerged hundreds of houses in thigh-high water and destroyed roads and bridges.
A navy warship has been deployed to deliver medical supplies, tents and other relief items but the thick mud is hindering the overland delivery of supplies to victims.
Worst hit was the village of Wasior, where a landslide was followed minutes later by a river that burst its banks, sweeping away residents in a fast-moving deluge of water, heavy logs and debris.
Indonesia’s climatology agency said that most parts of the country are currently experiencing torrential rains, strong winds, high waves and flooding due to extreme weather this year.