The toll of floods and landslides in Indonesia and East Timor is already very heavy, but it is unfortunately only provisional. More than 70 people have died and dozens more are still missing, local officials in both countries said on Monday.
“There are 55 dead, but this toll continues to evolve, especially as 42 people are still missing,” said Raditya Jati, spokesperson for the Indonesian disaster management agency. At least 16 people have also been killed in East Timor, according to a Timorese official.
Thousands of houses flooded
Floods and flash floods caused by torrential rains have wreaked havoc on the islands between Flores, Indonesia, and East Timor, prompting thousands to seek shelter in reception centers. This deluge caused water reservoirs to overflow and flood thousands of homes.
Landslides and flash floods are common in the Indonesian archipelago, especially during the rainy season. But conservationists point out that deforestation favors these disasters. In January, 40 Indonesians were killed in floods that hit the town of Sumedang, in West Java. The national disaster management agency estimates that 125 million Indonesians, or about half of the archipelago’s population, live in areas at risk of landslides.