By Agence France-Presse
Flash floods in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province have killed at least 77 people, the disaster agency said Monday as it raised the death toll from 58.
More than three dozen people remain missing, while scores have been injured in the disaster, triggered by torrential rain and landslides.
“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 and thousands were evacuated from the northeastern town of Sentani.
Amid the devastation, however, a baby has been reunited with his father after soldiers plucked the five-month old from rubble inside a house where his mother and siblings were found dead.
The tot has since been returned to his surviving father.
“We took him 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.”
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.