Floods Hit Indonesia’s Christian-Majority Island; Dozens Killed
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Easter celebrations on Indonesia’s only Christian-majority island were overshadowed by flash floods that killed scores of people and displaced thousands, officials and Christians said.
At least 41 people died in the flooding hitting Flores, in the east of Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago, and some 27 people were still missing, according to disaster authorities.
Three more, including a two-year-old child, were reported killed in neighboring East Timor, where deputy prime minister José Reis called the accident the worst in the area in 40 years.
Power supplies were cut, and the presidential palace was flooded as heavy rain and strong winds lashed East Timor’s capital Dili since late on Saturday, officials said.
Back in Flores, about 49 families were hit by flash floods unleashed by torrential rains, said Raditya Jati, a spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
The floods caused massive devastation. “Dozens of houses were buried in mud in Lamanele village… residents’ houses washed away by the flood,” the spokesman added, referring to the eastern part of Flores. “There are roads that have collapsed, trees have fallen, and made it difficult to access some areas.”
On Adonara island, east of Flores and part of the East Flores Regency, a bridge collapsed, and rescuers were seen battling heavy rain, strong wind, and waves.
Rescuers recovered 35 bodies and at least five injured said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency. Flash flooding killed at least six people elsewhere, the BNPB stressed.
Among the recovered human remains were the bodies of three people after being swept away by floods in Oyang Bayang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed, Ola told reporters. Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were carried off by the floodwaters. In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed. Seven remained missing when overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district, Ola explained. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.
Relief efforts were reportedly hampered by power cuts, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris. The remoteness of the area surrounded by choppy seas and high waves also added to difficulties.
Witnesses saw mud tumbling down from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes in Lamenele village shortly after midnight on Adonara island in East Nusa Tenggara province.
Severe flooding was also troubling Bima, a town in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee, authorities said.
The flooding came as a significant setback for Christians celebrating Easter Sunday on Flores.
That island is the only part of Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, where Christians are a majority due to its Portuguese heritage.
Just over half of Flores population of roughly two million is Christian; the other approximately 40 percent is Muslim, according to official estimates.
Flash floods and fatal landslides are shared across the Indonesian archipelago during the monsoon season, usually from November to March.
However, the latest deadly flooding followed several disasters this year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands, where millions live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.
In January, some 40 people died in two landslides hitting West Java province.
Almost at the same time, a deadly earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island leaving at least 42 people dead and hundreds injured.
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