| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Tropical cyclone kills at least 113 in Indonesia, East Timor

Landslides and floods triggered by tropical cyclone Seroja in a cluster of islands in southeast Indonesia and East Timor have claimed the lives of 113 people, with many still unaccounted for and thousands displaced, officials reported on Monday.

At least 86 deaths were reported on multiple islands in Indonesia’s West and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, while 71 others were missing, after the cyclone brought landslides, flash floods and strong winds amid torrential rain over the weekend, according to disaster agency BNPB.

In East Timor, which shares the Timor island with Indonesia, at least 27 people were killed by landslides, flash floods and a falling tree, while 7,000 were displaced, its government said.

On Lembata island, authorities feared bodies had been washed away.

“We are using rubber boats to find bodies at sea. In several villages, flash floods hit while people were sleeping,” Thomas Ola Langoday, deputy head of Lembata district government, told Reuters by phone.

Nearly 30,000 people have been affected by floods in Indonesia, some already taking shelter in evacuation centers, but rescue operations have been made difficult after falling trees blocked some roads and 5 bridges collapsed, BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati said.

Local authorities said a continuing storm had also halted evacuations in some places.

Hundreds of houses and other facilities such as a solar power plant were damaged, BNPB said. Ships and motor boats sank as the cyclone set off waves as high as 6 metres.

Powerful currents continued to flow through villages in the Malaka district on Timor island on Monday, even though the rain had stopped.

Some residents there hauled themselves to their roofs to escape flood water rising to 3-4 metres.

President Joko Widodo offered his condolences and ordered speedy disaster relief efforts.

According to Indonesia’s weather agency, the Seroja cyclone hit the Savu sea southwest of Timor island in the early hours of Monday.

Within 24 hours, the cyclone’s intensity could strengthen, bringing yet more rain, winds and waves although it was moving away from Indonesia, the agency said.

Dwikorita Karnawati, the agency’s head, said that the cyclone would be weakening in the coming 2 days.

  • Reuters