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Death toll in Indonesia and Timor-Leste from catastrophic floods rises to 157 

At least 157 people have been killed in Indonesia and neighbouring Timor-Leste with dozens more still missing after a tropical cyclone battered the south-east Asian nations, leaving thousands homeless, authorities said on Tuesday.

Indonesia’s disaster management agency said it had recorded 130 deaths in a cluster of remote islands near Timor-Leste, where another 27 have been officially listed as dead.

Rescuers in Indonesia were racing to find more than 70 people still missing and using diggers to clear mountains of debris left in the wake of tropical cyclone Seroja, which hit the islands on Sunday.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by power cuts, blocked roads, the remote location of affected areas and continued bad weather.

Flash floods in Indonesia and Timor-Leste leave scores dead and hundreds displaced – video
Flash floods in Indonesia and Timor-Leste leave scores dead and hundreds displaced – video

Torrential rains sparked flooding and landslides that turned small communities into wastelands of mud, uprooted trees and forced thousands of people into shelters.

Thousands of homes, as well as hospitals and bridges were damaged or destroyed in the disaster while more than 10,000 people have fled to shelters, authorities said.

“We could still see extreme weather (from the cyclone) for the next few days,” said national disaster agency spokesperson Raditya Jati.

Indonesia is prone to landslides and flash floods during the rainy season, while its position on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific basin, also leaves it vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. In January, 40 people were killed in flash floods in the Indonesian town of Sumedang in West Java.

About 125 million Indonesians, nearly half of the country’s population, live in areas at risk of landslides, according to the country’s disaster agency.

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