LEMBATA, Indonesia (AP) – Rescuers in remote eastern Indonesia were digging through landslide debris on Tuesday looking for 21 people believed to have been buried in one of the many disasters caused by inclement weather in the Southeast Asian country and its neighbors. East Timor.
More than a dozen villages were affected by Sunday’s landslide on Lembata Island, which was triggered when torrential rains caused solidified lava from an eruption in November to hurtle down the slopes of Volcano Ili Lewotolok. At least 67 people have been confirmed dead, according to the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Hundreds of police, soldiers and residents dug through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes in search of those buried, efforts that were hampered by heavy rains. Relatives cried as they watched rescuers remove a mud-covered body, place it on a bamboo stretcher and take it for burial.
Landslides and flooding from heavy rains caused by a tropical cyclone killed at least 128 people in several islands in Indonesia and 27 in East Timor. Thousands of homes have been damaged and thousands displaced in the disasters, which could continue to worsen as the storm is expected to continue to affect the region for several days as it moves south towards Australia.
In addition to the dead, Indonesian disaster officials said at least 72 people were missing.
Rescue efforts were hampered by weather conditions and the remoteness of the affected areas. Roads and bridges have been damaged in many areas.
Rescue personnel with eight excavators and tons of food and medicine were to be deployed from the town of Makassar on the island of Sulawesi, but were hampered by the lack of shipping to remote islands, the chief said. ‘National Disaster Reduction Agency, Doni Monardo. He called on the private sector to support relief efforts in these remote areas.
Three helicopters began to reach isolated areas of the islands on Tuesday. More helicopters with police and soldiers are expected to come to support the distribution of aid and supplies, Monardo said.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja has produced strong waves, high winds and heavy rains for several and its effects are expected to last until Friday, said Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency.
Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.