TRICKY RESCUE In this image made from a video, soldiers and police officers assist residents to cross a flooded road in Malaka Tengah, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia on Monday, April 5, 2021. AP PHOTO/ctto.

LEMBATA: At least 87 people are dead and dozens more still missing after flash floods and landslides hit Indonesia and neighboring East Timor, officials said on Monday. Torrential rain unleashed a deluge and subsequent landslides, turning small  communities into wastelands of mud and uprooted trees and forcing thousands into shelters. 

Cyclones continued to pound the hard-hit region Monday, hampering efforts to reach trapped survivors. Indonesia’s disaster agency said about 66 people have been killed so far.

Another 21 people also died in East Timor, said an official in the tiny half-island nation of 1.3 million that lies between Indonesia and Australia. Many of the deaths were in Timor’s inundated capital Dili. In Indonesia’s remote East Flores municipality, mud has washed over homes, bridges and roads, while strong waves have prevented search teams from accessing the hardest-hit areas.

On Lembata, an island east of Flores, parts of some villages were swept down a mountainside by torrents of mud and carried to the shore of the ocean. Soon after flash floods began tearing into resident Basir Langoday’s district in the early morning, he heard screams for help from a nearby home covered in rubble. 

“There were four of them inside. Three survived but the other one didn’t make it,” he told reporters. Langoday and his friends scrambled to try and save the trapped man before he was crushed to death. “He said ‘hurry, I can’t hold on any longer,” Langoday added. (Click here to read more…)