World news – Aid flows to cyclone-hit Indonesia as the death toll rises

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The local authorities declared East Nusa Tenggara – among the poorest provinces of Indonesia and the epicenter of the disaster – a state of emergency by the beginning of May.

Published: April 08, 2021 4:05 pm |

Last updated: April 8, 2021 4:05 pm

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People sit on the rubble of a truck in a flood-affected village in Nalelamadiken on Adonara Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia, Wednesday. (Photo | AP)

LEMBATA: Indonesian naval ships loaded with relief supplies arrived in a cyclone-ravaged part of the archipelago on Thursday when the disaster’s death toll rose to almost 180, including dozen who were killed in neighboring East Timor.

The local authorities declared East Nusa Tenggara – among the poorest provinces of Indonesia and the epicenter of the disaster – a state of emergency until the beginning of May.

Heavy rains from tropical cyclone Seroja, one of the most devastating storms in the region for years, turning small communities into wasteland of mud and uprooted trees, and causing thousands to flee to shelters amid widespread power outages.

« I don’t want to stay here any longer, even though I was born in this village », said Emirensiana Wua, 51, a resident of the badly affected island of Lembata.

The cyclone is now on its way to Australia, where the authorities are on vacation asked to evacuate part of the country’s west coast before landing late Sunday or early Monday.

– Help arrives –
In Indonesia, naval ships docked on the islands of Lembata and Adonara with a hospital ship, which was also on its way to the devastated area where thousands were left homeless and dozens are still missing.

Sunday’s storm swept buildings in some villages down a mountain slope and to the ocean coast on Lembata.

The naval ships are filled with food like rice and noodles as well as blankets and other materials for some of the more than 20,000 evacuees in the area Ship will arrive later today with military personnel deployed to help people after the disaster, « said Kompiang Aribawa, a chief of the regional naval base, earlier Thursday.

A cargo plane left Jakarta with about 100,000 face masks, Covid -19 test kits as well as prepared food and blankets for survivors in the direction of the disaster-hit region, said the head of the Indonesian Disaster Agency previously.

Another 37 were killed in East Timor – a tiny peninsula state of 1.3 million people between Indonesia and Australia officially known as Timor-Leste.

More than 70 people are still listed as missing . Disaster Agency officials use sniffer dogs to search mountains of debris for bodies – and for survivors.

Rescuers have been using excavators and shovels in the past few days to extract mud-covered corpses from the debris.

– ‘ They weren’t ready ‘-
Hospitals, bridges and thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

Fatal landslides and flash floods are common in the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season, with deforestation often being the cause, according to environmentalists.

This week’s disaster East Nusa Tenggara hit a relatively arid region suffering from a lack of flood and landslide containment planning, said Sapta Ananda Proklamasi, researcher at Greenpeace Indonesia.

« But land use planning there rarely affects what happens when it rains heavily … they weren’t ready yet. « 

The Disaster Agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians – almost half of the country’s population – live in landslide areas.

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