Debris left behind in the town of Adonara in East Flores on April 4 after flash floods and landslides swept eastern Indonesia and neighboring Timor-Leste. (Photo: Joy Christian/AFP)
At least 160 people died in flash floods and landslides that struck Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province and Catholic-majority Timor-Leste on Easter Sunday, according to disaster management and church officials.
Dozens more were reported missing in the April 4 disaster which followed two days of heavy rain in the region.
At least 61 people lost their lives and more than 30 were missing on Adonara island in East Flores district, the East Flores Disaster Mitigation Agency said on April 5.
Father Thomas Labina from Larantuka Diocese said hundreds of houses were buried in mudslides that hit three subdistricts.
On nearby Lembata island, at least 85 people died and 11 were missing after cold lava flows from the Ile Lewotolok volcano eruption hit four subdistricts, the priest said.
In neighboring Timor-Leste, at least 21 people are believed to have died, with many of the deaths being reported in the capital Dili.
In Adonara, electricity and transport links were cut in many areas, leaving the diocese unable to communicate with priests or laypeople and hampering efforts to distribute aid.
“We are trying to distribute aid to Adonara but continuing bad weather is making efforts extremely difficult,” Father Labina told UCA News.
Caritas Indonesia (Karina) said it was working with several Caritas field offices in Atambua Diocese in Timor, Larantuka Diocese in Flores, Weetabula Diocese in Sumba and Kupang Archdiocese in Timor to distribute aid to victims.
Father Fredy Rante Taruk, Caritas Indonesia’s executive director, said Kupang Archdiocese was sheltering more than 500 displaced people at St. Simon Petrus Church in Kupang.
“We are coordinating with the archdiocese and other dioceses impacted by the disaster. Aid will be distributed as quickly as possible,” he told UCA News.
The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has called on all its members to help the victims.
“The PGI is encouraging all churches in Indonesia to support the emergency response and work with churches in East Nusa Tenggara province to help the victims, vulnerable groups and refugees,” Philip Situmorang, the group’s spokesman said in a statement.