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Rescue crews blocked by damaged roads, more rain in Indonesia




Rescuers were hampered by damaged bridges and roads and a lack of heavy equipment on Monday as torrential rains caused numerous disasters in the far eastern islands of Indonesia as well as in East Timor.

At least 133 people died and dozens were missing in Indonesia, and 27 deaths were reported in East Timor. A tropical cyclone causing damage is expected to continue to affect the nations of Southeast Asia for days as it moves south toward Australia.

The mud fell from the surrounding hills to dozens of houses in the village of Lamenele shortly after midnight Sunday on Adonara Island in East Nusa Tenggara province. Rescue crews found 49 bodies and 28 people were seriously injured, Nusa Tenggara East Deputy Governor Josef Nae Soi said at a joint news conference late Monday.

The immediate floods killed at least 84 people elsewhere and 71 were still missing in the province, local leaders told the virtual press conference. Large floods were also reported in Bima, a town in the neighboring West Nusa Tenggara province, killing two people and sinking nearly 10,000 homes.

Aid 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 from the sea, which is now surrounded by high waves, he said. agency spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

Photos released by the agency showed that rescue teams were taking residents to shelters.

The bodies of 13 people were found after they were taken by floods in Alor district, where dozens of houses were destroyed, Soi said. Hundreds of people fled their sunken homes, some of whom were swept away by the floodwaters.

In another district, Still, two people were killed after overnight rains caused rivers to overflow their banks, sending muddy water to large areas of East Flores district, Soi said.

The rains also caused hardened lava to fall down the slopes of the Ili Lewotolok volcano and hit several villages. That catastrophe on Lembata Island killed at least 67 people buried under tons of hard lava, Lembata district chief Eliaser Yentji Sunur told the same press conference. The lava was released after the volcano erupted in November.

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

He said more than 950 homes were damaged, including dozens that were flattened or taken by floods and mud, forcing 2,655 people to flee to government shelters.

President Joko Widodo said he ordered his cabinet ministers and chiefs of army, police and disaster agency to carry out emergency response measures as soon as possible.

I can feel the grief of our brothers and sisters there caused by these disasters, Widodo said in a televised speech, giving deep condolences to the victims.

In East Timor, 13 people were killed in the capital, Dili, and at least 14 bodies were found elsewhere in the small country as rainfall caused landslides and dams to slide.

We are still looking for areas affected by natural disasters and the number could increase, said Joaquim Jos Gusmo dos Reis Martins, secretary of state for civil protection.

East Timor President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo offered his condolences to the victims and urged government officials to coordinate the response.

At least eight people are said to still be missing and about 8,000 displaced people have been evacuated to temporary shelters run by the country’s Red Cross, said government spokesman Fidelis Leite Magalhaes. He called on shops and markets to open immediately and people to return to their normal activities.

Tropical Cyclone Seroja has produced high waves, strong winds and heavy rains over the past three days and its effects are expected to last until Friday, said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia’s Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency.

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