Cyclone-triggered rains on islands in southeast Indonesia and East Timor have caused flooding and landslides that have killed more than 110 people, officials said, as the search was on for many others who are missing.
Category 2 Seroja raked the area as the storm tracked on a course for Western Australia, dumping heavy rain on the islands and triggering mudslides that buried homes and people.
Images and video posted on social media showed the devastation on Lembata and Adonara islands in Indonesia as well in East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste.
“I can feel the grief of our brothers and sisters there caused by these disasters,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a televised address, according to The Associated Press. He said he ordered the military, police and the country’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency to move quickly to aid stricken areas.
Indonesia is a sprawling archipelago nation of some 17,000 islands, many featuring volcanos. It is subject to severe flooding and landslides.
Official death tolls as reported by wire services quoting government sources varied widely, ranging from 113 dead to 160. The general area of destruction includes Komodo National Park, home to the famed giant lizard, the Komodo dragon, although there were no immediate reports from that island.
Dozens of homes in Lamenele village on Adonara, an island about 1,100 miles east Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, were inundated in mud. Rescuers there recovered 38 bodies, and at least five people were injured, said Lenny Ola, who leads the local disaster agency, according to the AP.
East of Adonara, at least 67 villagers on the adjacent island of Lembata were killed when Lewotolok volcano suddenly shed solidified lava from its slopes, sending the rocks tumbling down onto nearby homes, the AP reported.
The deputy head of the Lembata district government, Thomas Ola Langoday, said authorities there were “using rubber boats to find bodies at sea.”
“In several villages, flash floods hit while people were sleeping,” he told Reuters.
Electricity outages hampered rescuers in some areas, and thick mud and debris from mountainsides made roads impassable, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Raditya Jati said.
Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying some of the 30,000 people affected by the floods in Indonesia had already taken shelter in evacuation centers.
The AP and Reuters reported 27 dead in East Timor due to mudslides and flooding.