Flash flooding and mudslides resulting from torrential rains in East Indonesia destroyed millions of buildings and left more than 50 people dead, 70 people injured and thousands displaced in the Northeastern town of Sentani, near the provincial capital of Jayapura. Authorities expect the death toll to rise as search and rescue efforts are still on-going.
Emergency response teams are having difficulty reaching locals especially those in areas submerged in neck-high water and mud. The flash floods and mudslides, which began March 16, have left bridges and major roads destroyed, making it difficult to reach hard-hit areas. 4,150 locals have been evacuated.
The Adventist church in Papua was also severely impacted by the storms. The Adventist Aviation Indonesia (AAI), a service institution owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Indonesia, was devastated by this disaster. AAI provides aviation transportation, communication, and logistical support for front-line missions of the church and the Papua Adventist Academy.
In an email Darron Boyd, evangelism for the Adventist Church in Papua said, “Everyone staying in the campus isall safe including our families. But it is unlikely for thousands of people who were washed out during the flood.
“One of our mechanics for AAI is having surgery. His legs got broken while trying to escape the surge. He had severe cuts on his leg as well,” Boyd added.
Despite the disastrous flooding, Gary Roberts, Adventist pilot for AAI reported all AAI staff are safe.
“The new hangar was flooded, but it is still standing,” said Roberts. “The airplane inside is also safe. The PK-TCA [AAI’s new plane] is with me in Yahukimo during the weekend sparing it from the flash flood’s devastation.”
Roberts added two staff houses of AAI were completely gone, and other things inside the hangar were badly damaged. One aircraft belonging to Cendrawasih Air that was in AAI’s old hangar for maintenancewashed away to the main road.