Indonesia flash floods kill 44, toll expected to rise - Authorities

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 5, 2021

"We suspect many people are buried but it's not clear how many are missing", his colleague Alfons Hada Bethan, head of the East Flores disaster agency, said. Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were carried off by the floodwaters.

At least 21 people have also died in East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, news agencies quoted officials in the island nation as saying.

Torrential rain sparked widespread destruction in the South East Asian neighbours, with water from overflowing dams submerging thousands of homes.

Heavy rain and strong waves are making it hard for rescuers to reach the remote and worst-hit area in East Flores regency.

Hundreds of people were involved in rescue efforts, but distribution of aid and relief was hampered by power cuts, blocked roads and the remoteness of the area that's surrounded by choppy waters and high waves, said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

"We are now focusing on elderly victims, children and pregnant women to be taken to a safe place", it quoted Mr Joaquim Gusmao, the state secretary for civil protection, as saying.

East Flores deputy regent Agustinus Payong Boli estimated there were 60 casualties in his municipality.

"The majority of them, 55, are in Lemanele village".

The authorities say the number of victims is expected to rise.

In Lembata, an island halfway between Flores and Timor, parts of some villages were swept down a mountainside by torrents of mud, ending up down on the shore of the ocean.

In Lembata, local officials were forced to deploy heavy equipment to reopen the roads. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.

Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighbouring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing almost 10,000 people to flee, Jati said.

Dams in four sub-districts also overflowed, submerging almost 10,000 houses in Bima following a nine-hour downpour, said Jati.

The country's disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians - almost half of the country's population - live in areas at risk of landslides The disasters are often caused by deforestation, according to environmentalists.

Landslides and flash floods are not uncommon across the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season.

In January, flash floods hit the Indonesian town of Sumedang in West Java, killing 40 people.

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