Villagers carry the body of a victim after flash floods in Lembata, East Flores, on Monday. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Floods and landslides triggered by tropical cyclone Seroja in a cluster of islands in southeast Indonesia and East Timor have killed 160 people, with many still unaccounted for and thousands displaced, officials said on Tuesday.
Rescuers were searching for dozens of people still missing after floods and landslides swept away villages in Indonesia and East Timor.
Torrential rains from Tropical Cyclone Seroja turned small communities into wastelands of mud, uprooted trees and sent around 10,000 people fleeing to shelters across the neighbouring Southeast Asian nations.
More than a dozen villages were affected by Sunday's landslide on Lembata island, which was triggered when torrential rains caused solidified lava from an eruption in November to tumble down the slopes of Ili Lewotolok volcano. At least 67 people have been confirmed dead, according to Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Hundreds of police, soldiers and residents dug through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes searching for those buried, efforts that were being hindered by heavy rain. Relatives wailed as they watched rescuers pull out one mud-caked body, place it on a bamboo stretcher and take it away for burial.
Indonesia's disaster management agency said it had recorded 130 deaths in a cluster of remote islands near East Timor, where another 34 have been officially listed as dead since the disaster struck on Sunday.
Search and rescue teams in Indonesia were racing to find more than 70 people still missing and using diggers to clear mountains of debris.
Indonesia rescuers search at an area affected by flash floods after heavy rains in East Flores. Basarnas/Reuters
The storm swept buildings in some villages down a mountainside and to the shore of the ocean on Lembata island, where some small communities have been wiped off the map.
"This area will never be inhabited again," said Lembata district official Eliyaser Yentji Sunur, referring to a flattened part of Waimatan village.
"We won't let people live here. Like it or not, they'll have to relocate."
Waimatan resident Onesimus Sili said floods early Sunday destroyed his community before anyone knew what happening.
Indonesian soldiers use a tractor to help residents to cross a flooded road in Malaka Tengah on Monday. AP
"Around midnight, we heard a very loud rumbling sound and we thought it was a nearby volcano erupting," he told AFP.
"By the time we realised that it was a flash flood, the houses were already gone."
Authorities in both nations were scrambling to shelter evacuees while trying to prevent any spread of Covid-19.
On Tuesday, East Timor recorded its first virus death -- a 44-year-old woman -- since the pandemic broke out last year.
The tiny half-island nation of 1.3 million sandwiched between Indonesia and Australia, officially known as Timor-Leste, quickly shut down its borders to avoid a widespread outbreak that threatened to overwhelm its creaky health care system.
Soldiers assist residents to cross a flooded road in Malaka Tengah, Indonesia, on Monday. AP
But the disaster has heightened fears of a spike in cases as thousands cram into shelters across Timor's inundated capital Dili and elsewhere.
'Clothes on their back'
Local officials in Lembata were bracing for its meagre health facilities to be overwhelmed as the number of injured coming from isolated villages soars.
"These evacuees fled here with just wet clothes on their backs and nothing else," said the area's deputy mayor, Thomas Ola Longaday.
"They need blankets, pillows, mattresses and tents."
There was also a dire shortage of trained doctors.
"We don't have enough anaesthesiologists and surgeons, but we've been promised that help will come," Longaday said.
"Many survivors have broken bones because they were hit by rocks, logs and debris."
Nearby in East Flores municipality, torrents of mud washed over homes, bridges and roads.
Sparked by torrential rain, the deluge and subsequent landslides sent thousands fleeing into shelters as dams overflowed and their homes were submerged. Mud and continued extreme weather have made it difficult for rescue workers to reach trapped survivors.
Landslides and floods triggered by torrential rain have killed at least 29 people in Indonesia, the disaster agency said on Monday, with thousands taking shelter in evacuation centres amid fears of disease.
Nine people were killed and more than 30 were missing in Myagdi district, 200 km (125 miles) northwest of the capital Kathmandu, where several houses were destroyed on Friday, district administrator Gyan Nath Dhakal said.
The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) said on Sunday that torrential rains triggered the disaster on Saturday evening in the town of Sumedang, where a second landslide buried residents and a rescue team that had been searching for the initial victims.
The Dubai Public Prosecution based on a default judgement referred two Asian security guards to criminal court for stealing equipment worth over Dhs1.1 million from a company in Dubai.
Railway pointsman Mayur Shelke wasted no time once he saw the boy losing the grip of his kin’s hand and falling onto the rail tracks. Shelke ran towards the boy without thinking of the danger lurking around as he can see a speeding train approaching from opposite direction.
Saudi Arabia has stationed women police officers on duty for the first time in history at Makkah’s Grand mosque. The Saudi Ministry of Interior shared photos of female security officers patrolling the compound of the mosque.
The ITC authority emphasised that it will intensify field inspections as well as install cameras to detect driver’s wrong practices in which will result in a fine of Dhs2,000 for entering or occupying a prohibited area for public means of transport or its infrastructure.