JAKARTA, Indonesia – Landslides and flash floods caused by heavy rains in eastern Indonesia have killed at least 41 people and displaced thousands, the country’s disaster relief agency said on Sunday. More than two dozen others were still missing.
Shortly after midnight, mud fell from the surrounding hills on dozens of houses in the village of Lamenele on Adonara Island in East Nusa Tenggara Province. The rescuers recovered 35 bodies and injured at least five, said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency.
According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, flash floods killed at least six people elsewhere. Relief efforts have been hampered by power outages, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris, and the remoteness of the area surrounded by choppy seas and high waves, said agency spokeswoman Raditya Jati.
Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods, killing dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands home to millions of people in mountainous areas or near fertile floodplains.
The Indonesian Disaster Agency cut the death toll from 44 to 41 late Sunday after the search and rescue team re-checked the victims’ data. At least 27 people were still missing.
The bodies of three people were recovered after being swept away by floods in Oyang Bayang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed, Ola said. Hundreds of people fled from submerged houses, some of which were carried away by the floods.
In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed and seven went missing when nighttime rains caused rivers to burst their banks and send muddy water to large areas of East Flores District, Ola said. Four injured were treated at a local health clinic.
Hundreds of people were still involved in the rescue effort by late Sunday, Jati said at a press conference. At least six villages were hit by flash floods and a landslide that cut five bridges on the island, he said.
Photos released by the agency showed rescuers as well as police and military personnel taking residents to emergency shelters.
Authorities were still collecting information on the full extent of the casualties and damage in the affected areas, Jati said. Severe floods were also reported in Bima, a city in neighboring West Nusa Tenggara province, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee.
In January, 40 people died in two landslides in West Java Province.