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Indonesia: Flooding, strong earthquake claim more than 80 lives

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 19, 2019, 4:11:02 AM EDT

Heavy rain inundated portions of eastern Indonesia this weekend, resulting in widespread flooding and mudslides that have killed at least 89, injured dozens and displaced thousands. Dozens remain missing, according to the Associated Press.

The worst of the flooding occurred in Papua province which borders Papua New Guinea. Jayapura district, on the northern coast of the province, was particularly hard hit by the flooding and mudslides.

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement that the town of Sentani, near the provincial capital Jayapura, was impacted the most.


He described the devastation, detailing that hundreds of homes have been submerged in "neck-high water and mud," according to ABC News.

ABC also reported that more than 4,000 people have been moved to temporary shelters.

Indonesia AP 3/18

Nugroho noted that search and rescue is still underway and that the death toll is expected to rise.

“The joint search and rescue teams are still doing evacuations and not all affected areas have been reached because of fallen trees, rocks, mud and other material,” he said.

The region's main transportation hub, Sentani airport, remains open despite other infrastructure losses such as several area bridges, according to Reuters.

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Nearby 24-hour rainfall reports include 114 mm (4.48 inches) at Sentani airport and more than 250 mm (10 inches) at another reporting station in Jayapura, about 25 km (15.5 miles) away from the airport.

Heavy rainfall over the mountains farther inland sparked mudslides and flash flooding.


“We’ve told local authorities to be careful of floods or flash floods considering forest destruction that has been happening in the Cyclops mountains,” Nugroho told Kompas TV.

In addition to being in the midst of the rainy season, enhanced showers and storms are expected to continue for another few days.

Tropical Cyclone Trevor churning just off the coast of northeastern Australia will push even more moisture across the Arafura Sea and into Papua as it strengthens.

The deadly flooding occurred on the same weekend during which dozens of tourists were evacuated from a waterfall site on the Indonesian island of Lombok on Sunday. The evacuations were prompted after an earthquake triggered landslides in the area. Three people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed, according to the Associated Press.

At least 182 people were injured during the earthquake and more than 500 homes were damaged or destroyed.

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake was registered by the United States Geological Survey in northeastern Lombok on Sunday afternoon.

A 6.9 magnitude quake in Lombok in August 2018 claimed the lives of more than 500 people.

AP indonesia flooding 3/17

In this photo provided by National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS), the agency's personnel and police carry the body of flood victim at Sentani, Papua Province, Indonesia, Sunday, March 17, 2019. Flash flood and mudslides triggered by days of torrential downpours tore through mountainside villages in Indonesia's easternmost province, killing dozens of people, disaster officials said Sunday. (BASARNAS via AP)

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