Over 150 dead from cyclone in Indonesia & Timor-Leste, thousands left homeless

Rescue teams are working to search for survivors amidst the aftermath of landslides and floods.

Matthias Ang | April 07, 2021, 09:01 PM

Nearly 160 people have died, while thousands more have been left homeless, from a cyclone that hit has both Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Al Jazeera reported.

On Apr. 4, Tropical Cyclone Seroja made landfall on both countries, causing floods and landslides.

Indonesia has since recorded 130 deaths within the province of East Nusa Tenggara, while another 27 deaths were recorded within the country of Timor-Leste.

CNA reported that search-and-rescue teams are still looking for more than 100 people who are still missing from the disaster.

Past volcanic eruption exacerbated cyclone's effects on one island

Reuters reported that one Indonesian island, Lembata, which is east of Flores, had been particularly badly affected by the cyclone, and had suffered a volcanic eruption last month.

The eruption had destroyed vegetation atop the volcano, which resulted in a landslide of hardened lava in the direction of 300 houses when the cyclone hit.

As such, many bodies are still feared to be trapped under the rocks.

France 24 reported that parts of some villages on the island were also swept down a mountainside and carried to the shore by floods.

Juna Witak, one of the island's residents, said that the body of his mother was discovered by the seashore after a flash flood on Sunday.

He was quoted as saying, "There was a rumbling sound and the floods swept away homes, everything."

Indonesia is also working on preventing Covid-19 outbreaks in evacuation shelters

Meanwhile, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) held a cabinet meeting on April 6 to discuss speeding up evacuation and relief efforts to affected areas.

He was quoted as saying, "If we cannot reach there by road, I ask that we swiftly open the access by sea as well as by air."

CNA further reported that rescuers have been working with shovels and diggers to extract bodies from the debris, while hospital ships have been prepared by Indonesia's navy.

In addition, the government is also working to stem the potential spread of Covid-19 among people in evacuation shelters.

The country's disaster agency added that homeless families will each receive 500,000 rupiah (S$46) so that they are able to obtain rental accommodation instead of sheltering at makeshift shelters.

The agency's chief, Doni Mornado, added that a cargo plane carrying 100,000 face masks, virus test kits, food and blankets for survivors, will also depart Jakarta for the affected region.

He said, "This is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. We must avoid crowds inside the tents."


Top photo by REYNOLD ATAGORAN/AFP via Getty Images