At least 44 people were killed after floods and landslides swept across an island in Indonesia’s easternmost province on Sunday morning, rescue officials said, adding that they expected tolls to rise.
“There are 44 people dead with nine injured” in the East Flores regency, and “many (…) are still in the mud,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Raditya Jati told AFP.
Hours before people woke up to celebrate Easter Sunday, heavy rains released rivers on the Catholic majority Flores Island.
Clay flooded homes, while bridges and roads at the eastern end of the island were destroyed.
Rescuers are struggling to reach the remote and worst-hit area of the East Flores regency due to rain and strong waves.
The number of deaths increased from 23 as previously announced by the authorities.
The number of injured is also expected to increase as the agency still receives reports from locals, Jati said.
“We are still documenting the total number of casualties,” the spokesman said, adding that extreme weather is expected to continue over the coming week.
Separately on Sunday, major flooding also killed two people in the town of Bima in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara, according to the disaster agency.
Dams in four sub-areas also flooded and nearly 10,000 houses in Bima were submerged after a nine-hour rainstorm, Jati said.
Deadly landslides and floods are common over the Indonesian archipelago during the rainy season.
In January, floods hit the Indonesian city of Sumedang in West Java, killing 40 people.
And in September last year, at least 11 people were killed in a landslide in Borneo, while a few months earlier dozens died in a similar disaster in Sulawesi.
Deforestation is often a cause of the landslide, according to environmental activists.
The country’s disaster agency has estimated that 125 million Indonesians – almost half of the country’s population – live in areas at risk of landslides.