JAKARTA – Landslides and flash floods from torrential rains in eastern Indonesia killed at least 41 people and displaced thousands, the country's disaster relief agency said Sunday. More than two dozen others were still missing.
Mud tumbled down from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes in Lamenele village shortly after midnight on Adonara island in East Nusa Tenggara province. Rescuers recovered 35 bodies and at least five injured, said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency.
Flash flooding killed at least six people elsewhere, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Relief efforts were hampered by power cuts, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris as well as the remoteness of the area surrounded by choppy seas and high waves, said the agency's spokesperson, Raditya Jati.
Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods, killing dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.
Indonesia's disaster agency lowered the death toll late Sunday to 41 — down from 44 — after search and rescue team reverified 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 submerged homes, some of which were carried off by the floodwaters.
In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed and seven remained missing when overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district, Ola said. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.
Hundreds of people were still involved in the rescue efforts as of late Sunday, Jati told a press conference. At least six villages have been affected by flash floods and a landslide that cut five bridges on the island, he said.
Photos released by the agency showed rescuers and police and military personnel taking residents to shelters.
Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas, Jati said. Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee.
In January, 40 people died in two landslides in West Java province.