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Floods, landslides, kill dozens in Indonesia, East Timor

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JAKARTA: Flash floods unleashed by torrential rains killed 41 people on the Indonesian island of Flores on Sunday, the disaster management agency BNPB said, and at least three more were reported killed in neighbouring East Timor.


At least 49 families were hit on Flores, in the east of Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago, Raditya Jati, a BNPB spokesman said in a statement.


“Dozens of houses were buried in mud in Lamanele village... residents’ houses washed away by the flood’’, Raditya said, referring to the eastern part of Flores.


On Adonara island to the east of Flores, a bridge collapsed and rescuers were battling heavy rain, strong wind and waves, he added.


In neighbouring East Timor, a two-year-old child was among at least three people killed in a landslide on the outskirts of the capital, Dili, a Reuters witness said, although there was no official toll of casualties or deaths.


“Heavy rains and overflowing water have drowned people’s homes and have also claimed the lives of several victims’’, East Timor deputy prime minister José Reis said in a statement.


“There are roads that have collapsed, trees have fallen, and made it difficult to access some areas’’, he said, calling the incident the worst in East Timor in 40 years.


Power supplies were cut and the presidential palace was flooded as heavy rain and strong winds have lashed Dili since late on Saturday.


Civil protection officials in East Timor could not immediately be reached for comment. Social media posts showed collapsed buildings and vehicles submerged by flash floods.


Indonesia’s weather agency said a tropical cyclone was approaching the Savu Straits between the southern part of Nusa Tenggara province and East Timor’s north coast, warning that it could bring yet more rain, waves and winds.


Photographs shared by the disaster mitigation agency showed powerful currents flowing through a village, while the roads were scattered with debris left behind by the flooding.


Jati said aid and relief efforts for the affected villages were hampered by the absence of transportation to the island. It can only be reached by sea, but links have been suspended due to high waves and the severe weather conditions.


“We are working on other ways to reach the island other than by the sea’’, Jati said.


The climatology and meteorological agency predicted that some parts of Indonesia could face extreme weather, with heavy and torrential rain, strong winds and large waves during the week ahead.


Disaster-prone Indonesia has recorded 968 disasters as of March 30 this year, most of which are wet hydro meteorological hazards with 870 occurrences, including 414 hazards caused by flooding.


— dpa/Reuters


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