Cyclone adds misery to flood-hit areas

Living on the edge: People looking at a flood-damaged home in Dili, Timor Leste. — AP

Tropical cyclone Seroja pounded Indonesia and Timor Leste after torrential rains triggered floods and landslides that have killed at least 91 people and left dozens missing.

Packing heavy winds and rain, yesterday’s storm heaped more misery on the South-East Asian nations after Sunday’s disaster turned small communities into wastelands of mud and uprooted trees and forced thousands of people into shelters.

Downpours are expected over the next day as the storm triggers offshore waves as high as six metres, Indonesia’s disaster agency said.

The cyclone, which was picking up strength as it moved towards the west coast of Australia, hampered efforts to reach trapped survivors.

Indonesia’s disaster agency said at least 70 people have been killed, with another 70 missing.

In Timor Leste, at least 21 people have been killed according to an official in the tiny half-island nation of

1.3 million that lies between Indonesia and Australia.

Many of the deaths were in Timor Leste’s inundated capital Dili, where the front of the presidential palace was transformed into a mud pit.

In Indonesia’s remote East Flores municipality, torrents of mud washed over homes, bridges and roads while strong waves have prevented search teams from accessing the hardest-hit areas.

On Lembata, an island east of Flores, parts of some villages were swept down a mountainside and carried to the shore of the ocean.

Soon after, flash floods began tearing into resident Basir Langoday’s district in the early morning, he heard screams for help from a nearby home covered in rubble.

“There were four of them inside.

“Three survived but the other one didn’t make it, ” he told reporters.

Some 2,500 people had been evacuated in Timor Leste, with several thousand more in Indonesia. — AFP

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