Baby reunited with dad as Indonesia flood death toll hits 77

SENTANI, Indonesia (AFP) – A baby trapped under rubble after flash flooding destroyed his home in Indonesia has been reunited with his father after the disaster killed the rest of their family, officials said yesterday, as the death toll hit 77.

The five-month old was plucked on Sunday from debris inside a house where his mother and siblings were found dead in the hard-hit northeastern town of Sentani.

The tot has since been returned to his surviving father.

“We took the baby to the hospital and had him treated,” Papua military spokesman Muhammad Aidi told AFP.

“He was in stable condition and has been released. The father was distressed but happy to be reunited with his baby.”

Police and soldiers search for residents who need assistance at a flooded neighbourhood in Sentani, Papua Province, Indonesia. – AP

The news came as Indonesia’s disaster agency raised the official death toll from 58, with more than three dozen people still missing.

Scores have been injured in the disaster, triggered by torrential rain and landslides on Saturday.

“The death toll could still go up with 43 people unaccounted for,” said national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Rescuers battled mud, rocks and fallen trees in the hunt for survivors, as medical personnel treated the wounded in makeshift tents.

The military said 5,700 people have been evacuated from the hard-hit area.

“We have over 1,000 personnel searching for more victims,” Aidi said.

Indonesia has issued a 14-day state of emergency in response to the floods.

Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea on an island just north of Australia.

Flooding is common in Indonesia, especially during the rainy season which runs from October to April.

In January, floods and landslides killed at least 70 people on Sulawesi island, while earlier this month hundreds in West Java province were forced to evacuate when torrential rains triggered severe flooding.