Death toll in Indonesia, East Timor catastrophic flood surges past 160

Indonesia-floods-April-06-main1-750 – Villagers carry the body of a victim after flash floods in Lembata, East Flores, on Monday. AFP

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.

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