More than 90 dead in Indonesia, East Timor floods, dozens missing - GulfToday

More than 90 dead in Indonesia, East Timor floods, dozens missing


Debris litter an area hit by flash flood in East Flores, Indonesia. AP

Gulf Today Report

Tropical cyclone Seroja pounded Indonesia and East Timor on Monday after torrential rains triggered floods and landslides that have killed at least 91 people and left dozens missing.

Packing heavy winds and rain, the storm heaped more misery on the Southeast Asian nations after Sunday's disaster turned small communities into wastelands of mud and uprooted trees and forced thousands of people into shelters.

Downpours are expected over the next day as the storm triggers offshore waves as high as six metres (20 feet), Indonesia's disaster agency said.

The cyclone, which was picking up strength as it moved toward the west coast of Australia, hampered efforts to reach trapped survivors.

Mud and continued extreme weather have made it difficult for rescue workers to reach trapped survivors.

Indonesia-Floods-1Residents inspect the damage at a village hit by flash flood in East Flores, Indonesia. AP

Indonesia's disaster agency said at least 70 people have been killed, with another 70 missing.

"There are 55 dead, but this number is very dynamic and will definitely change, while some 42 people are still missing," Indonesia disaster management agency spokesperson Raditya Jati told broadcaster MetroTV.

At least 21 people had also died in East Timor, said an official in the tiny half-island nation of 1.3 million that lies between Indonesia and Australia.

Many of the deaths were in Timor's inundated capital Dili.

In Indonesia's remote East Flores municipality, mud has washed over homes, bridges and roads, while strong waves have prevented search teams from accessing the hardest-hit areas.


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In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed and seven missing after overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district, Ola said. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.

Indonesian soldiers use a tractor to help residents to cross a flooded road in Malaka Tengah on Monday. AP

The death toll reached 55 by Monday morning after the rains caused cold lava to tumble down the slopes of Ili Lewotolok volcano and hit several villages, Jati said.

That disaster on Lembata island killed at least 11, while at least 16 others were still buried under tons of cold lava, Jati said. The lava was left after the volcano had erupted in November.

Hundreds of people were still involved in the rescue efforts as of late Sunday, Jati told a news conference. At least six villages have been affected by flash floods and a landslide that cut five bridges on the island, he said.

Photos released by the agency showed rescuers and police and military personnel taking residents to shelters.

Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas, Jati said. Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee.

Seasonal rains frequently cause flooding and landslides in Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

'Medicine, food, blankets'

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his "deepest condolences" over the devastation.

Soldiers assist residents to cross a flooded road in Malaka Tengah, Indonesia, on Monday. AP

"I understand the deep sorrow suffered by our brothers and sisters because of this disaster," he said in a nationwide address.

Across the region, scared residents have flocked to temporary shelters or taken refuge in what was left of their homes.

"The evacuees are spread out. There are hundreds in each sub-district but many others are staying at home," said Alfons Hada Bethan, head of the East Flores disaster agency.

"They need medicine, food, blankets."

Some 2,500 people had been evacuated in East Timor.

Pounding rains challenged efforts to find any survivors.

"We suspect many people are buried but it's not clear how many are missing," Bethan said.


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