News At least 55 dead in multiple disasters in Indonesia as torrential rains cause landslides, flooding
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At least 55 dead in multiple disasters in Indonesia as torrential rains cause landslides, flooding

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At least 55 people are dead, another 40 are missing and thousands left homeless after multiple disasters caused by torrential rains in eastern Indonesia.

At least 400 people in the East Nusa Tenggara province, which comprises several islands, were evacuated after their homes were hit by flash floods, landslides and strong winds in the early hours of Sunday amid heavy rain brought by the cyclone.

Several bridges collapsed, trees fell and blocked some roads and at least one ship sank as the cyclone also triggered high waves, complicating search and rescue operations.

President Joko Widodo offered his condolences and urged residents to follow the direction from field officers during extreme weather.

“I have ordered for disaster relief efforts to be conducted quickly and well, for example for health service assistance, availability of logistics and basic needs for the displaced and the reparation of infrastructure,” he said in remarks streamed online.

Mud tumbled down from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes in Lamenele village shortly after midnight on Sunday on Adonara island in East Nusa Tenggara province.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief Lenny Ola said rescuers recovered 38 bodies and at least five people were injured.

Flash flooding killed at least 17 people elsewhere and at least 42 are missing.

Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said relief efforts were hampered by power cuts, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris as well as the remoteness of the area on an island surrounded by choppy seas and high waves.

“We’re sending basic logistical needs such as food, blankets and others,” Mr Jati said.

Mr Ola said the bodies of three people were recovered after being swept away by floods in Oyang Bayang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed.

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 missing after overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district.

Mr Jati said the death toll reached 55 by Monday morning after the rains caused cold lava to tumble down the slopes of Ili Lewotolok volcano and hit several villages.

Mr Jati said the disaster on Lembata island killed at least 11, while at least 16 others were still buried under tons of cold lava. The lava was left after the volcano had erupted in November.

He said hundreds of people were still involved in the rescue efforts as of late Sunday, while at least six villages were affected by flash floods and a landslide that cut five bridges on the island.

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.

Seasonal rains frequently cause flooding and landslides in Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

-with AAP