Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Warship leads flood relief effort

Rescuers are still struggling to reach people stranded by the flash floods and mudslides in Indonesia (AP)
Rescuers are still struggling to reach people stranded by the flash floods and mudslides in Indonesia (AP)

A navy warship arrived in a remote corner of eastern Indonesia carrying tents and medical supplies after flash floods and mudslides tore through mountainside villages, killing at least 75 people and leaving thousands homeless.

The disaster in West Papua province - triggered by days of torrential downpours - submerged hundreds of houses in water and destroyed roads and bridges, hampering already difficult rescue efforts.

Worst hit was the village of Wasior, where a landslide on Monday morning 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.

"Many people didn't have time to save themselves," said Ira Wanoni, adding that at least 30 homes were completely flattened.

The death toll continued to rise even as rescue efforts increased with the arrival of security forces, together with 13 tons of supplies, from tents and sleeping mats to instant noodles and clean water.

Around 90 people were taken to hospital, many with broken bones. Some had to be evacuated by helicopter and, as hospitals in the district of Manokwari became overwhelmed, others were taken by ship to neighbouring provinces.

More than 2,000 people were seeking shelter in government buildings and makeshift camps.

The central provinces of Vietnam have also been struck by floods, killing at least 26 people.

In the worst-hit area of Quang Binh, disaster officials have said that 11 people died and that authorities are still searching for five sailors from a sunken barge.

Light rains were reported in the region on Wednesday, and flood waters began receding slowly.

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