Indonesia landslides, floods kill at least 73 people; dozens missing

Indonesia landslides, floods kill at least 73 people; dozens missing

Lembata: Rescuers were hampered by damaged bridges and roads and a lack of heavy equipment Monday after torrential rains caused multiple disasters on remote eastern Indonesian islands as well as in East Timor.

At least 73 people died and dozens are missing in Indonesia, and 27 deaths were reported in East Timor.

A tropical cyclone causing the damage is expected to continue affecting the Southeast Asian nations for days while moving south toward Australia.

Mud tumbled down from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes in Lamenele village shortly after midnight Sunday on Adonara island in East Nusa Tenggara province. Rescuers recovered 38 bodies and at least five people were injured, said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency.

Flash floods killed at least 33 people elsewhere and at least 70 are missing in the province, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighbouring province of West Nusa Tenggara, killing two people and submerging nearly 10,000 houses.

Relief efforts were hampered by power outages, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris, as well as the remoteness of the area on an island that can only be reached by sea which is now surrounded by high waves, said the agency's spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

Photos released by the agency showed rescuers taking residents to shelters.

The bodies of three people were recovered after being swept away by floods in Oyang Barang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed, Ola said. Hundreds of people fled their submerged homes, some of which were swept away by the floodwaters. 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.

The rains also caused solidified lava to tumble down the slopes of Ili Lewotolok volcano and hit several villages.

That disaster on Lembata island killed at least 14, while at least 42 others were still buried under tons of the solid lava, said Lembata district chief Eliaser Yentji Sunur. The lava was left after the volcano erupted in November.

Hundreds of people were still involved in the rescue efforts on Monday. Ten districts and the provincial capital of Kupang were affected by flash floods and a landslide that damaged five bridges and several public facilities in East Nusa Tenggara province, Jati said.

He said more than 950 houses were damaged, including dozens that were flattened or swept away by floods and mud, forcing 2,655 people to flee to government shelters. President Joko Widodo said he ordered his Cabinet ministers and the chiefs of the military, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures as quickly as possible.

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