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Death toll in floods in Indonesia's Papua rises to nearly 80
Authorities in Indonesia raised the death toll from floods and landslides in the easternmost province of Papua to nearly 80 on Monday (March 18) as President Joko Widodo called for the urgent evacuation of victims from devastated communities. The deadly floods and landslide struck at the weekend after torrential rain fell across the Cyclops mountain range, much of which has been stripped of tree cover by villagers chopping fire wood and farmers cultivating plantations. Eyewitness videos uploaded to social media websites showed submerged houses and cars driving through deep mud, collapsed buildings and a small plane washed away following the flood in the town of Sentani, which was hit by flash floods late on Saturday (March 16). The death toll shot up to nearly 80 from 58 on Sunday as rescuers found more victims as they struggled to clear mud, rocks and shattered trees from the area near the provincial capital of Jayapura, including a 70 km stretch of road.