JAKARTA : At least 70 people were killed after flash floods and landslides hit Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara provinces over the weekend, the authorities said on Monday (April 5), warning that the number of casualties might increase.
Torrential rain triggered floods and landslides that created havoc and destruction on islands across East Nusa Tenggara on Sunday. Dams overflowed, inundating hundreds of houses.
In one of the severely affected regions, East Flores regency, 44 people died, while 26 people were still missing and nine others injured, National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman Raditya Jati said on Monday. More than 250 residents have been evacuated to a village hall.
“The data on the victims and affected residents can still change in line with the development on the ground,” he said in a statement.
At least 17 houses were carried away by floods and 60 others were inundated by mud, while five bridges were cut off in the regency, where rescuers were hampered by lack of heavy equipment to find victims buried under mud and a key transportation route to reach the region by sea was hindered by rain, strong wind and waves.
In Lembata regency, Sunday flash floods in two sub-districts also took 11 lives, while 16 others were missing. In East Sumba regency, similar incidents also caused rivers to overflow, forcing 165 residents to evacuate to safer places.
In East Nusa Tenggara provincial capital Kupang, extreme weather that sparked landslides, floods and tidal waves damaged 10 houses.
Earlier, a nine-hour downpour on Saturday caused dams in four districts in the Bima regency in the neighboring West Nusa Tenggara province to overflow, resulting in floods ranging from 50cm to 2m high. Two people were killed, the BNPB said.
President Joko Widodo on Monday expressed his grief over the casualties in both provinces and instructed the relevant authorities, including the BNPB and the Search and Rescue Agency, to evacuate the affected residents quickly.
“I demand that the disaster can be handled well and promptly such as by way of health service aid, the provision of logistics and basic needs for the evacuees, and infrastructure rehabilitation,” he said.
On Monday, the BNPB distributed aid, including food, blankets and masks, to East Flores.
The President also called on residents to raise their awareness of potential flood and landslides along with rising rainfall and to heed disaster early warnings from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.
On Saturday, the agency detected and warned of two potential tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean south-west Sumatra and in Savu Sea, East Nusa Tenggara.
It has also warned that potential extreme weather could cause heavy and very heavy rain, strong winds and high waves across the vast archipelago throughout this week.
Deadly flash floods and landslides often occur in the country during the rainy season. Flash floods in Sumedang, West Java, in January caused at least 40 deaths.
In neigbouring country Timor Leste, floods sweeping its capital Dili on Sunday killed 11 people.
“We are still searching for the areas impacted by the natural disasters,” Secretary of State for Civil Protection for Timor Joaquim Jose Gusmao dos Reis Martins was quoted as saying by AFP.
By : Linda Yulisman – THE STRAITS TIMES