Baby reunited with dad as flood tally rises to 79

A soldier cradles the five-month-old baby, who was trapped for hours under rubble and rescued in Sentani.
A soldier cradles the five-month-old baby, who was trapped for hours under rubble and rescued in Sentani.
Image: Indonesian Military/ AFP

A baby trapped under rubble when flash floods destroyed his Indonesian home has been reunited with his father after the disaster killed the rest of their family, officials said on Monday, as the death toll hit 79.

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

The baby has since been returned to his father.

“We took the baby to the hospital and had him treated,” Papua military spokesperson Muhammad Aidi said.

“The father was distressed but happy to be reunited with his baby.”

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,” national disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Rescuers battled mud, rocks and fallen trees looking for survivors.

The military said 5,700 people had been evacuated from the area.

“We have more than 1,000 personnel searching for more victims,” Aidi said. Indonesia has issued a 14-day state of emergency.

Papua shares a border with 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 in March hundreds in West Java province were forced to evacuate when torrential rains triggered severe flooding.

Meanwhile, three people were killed – including two Malaysian tourists – and some 182 were injured after an earthquake triggered a landslide on the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok, next to Bali, on Sunday.

The 5.5-magnitude quake is thought to have caused the landslide at the Tiu Kelep waterfall in the north of the island.