Helicopters have been deployed to help search for survivors among 72 people missing so far in East Nusa Tenggara Islands, where Tropical Cyclone Seroja caused high winds and heavy rains that caused flash floods and floods. landslides.
An amateur video taken by a local official in the village of Tanjung Batu on Lembata Island, home to the Mount Ile Lewotolok volcano, showed felled trees and large boulders of cold lava that had crushed houses after being dislodged by the cyclone.
Authorities said the death toll could rise as rescuers reach more isolated areas. Images of the area on Monday showed downed trees, rough seas and storm-flattened wooden houses and debris floating in the muddy floodwater.
At least 8,424 people have been displaced, nearly 2,000 buildings including a hospital affected and more than 100 homes severely damaged by the cyclone, which had moved over the Indian Ocean on Tuesday morning, was heading north of the ‘Australia.
Meteorological agency chief Dwikorita Karnawati said once rare tropical cyclones were occurring more often in Indonesia and climate change could be to blame.
“Seroja is the first time that we see a huge impact because it has hit the ground. It is not common,” she said at a press conference.
In neighboring West Nusa Tenggara province, authorities said Monday that two people had died, while in neighboring East Timor, at least 27 had died.
Some residents of Lembata Island may have been swept up in the mud in the sea. The deputy district chief hoped that help was on the way.
“We were only able to search on the seashore, not in the deeper areas, due to lack of equipment yesterday,” Thomas Ola Langoday told Reuters by phone.
Lembata suffered a volcanic eruption last month, destroying vegetation at the top of the mountain, which allowed hardened lava to slide towards 300 homes when the cyclone struck, he said.
Langoday feared that many bodies were still buried under large rocks.
President Joko Widodo held a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to speed up evacuation and relief efforts and the restoration of power.
“If we cannot get there by road, I ask that we quickly open up access by sea and air,” the president said, adding that the extreme weather conditions had hampered the distribution of aid.
Search and rescue agency chief Doni Monardo said on Tuesday that help from the military and volunteers was on the way.
Monardo said there were health concerns regarding overcrowding at evacuation centers and authorities would provide rapid COVID-19 test kits to try to prevent an outbreak.