By Linda Bordoni
Rescuers have managed to evacuate some 2,000 people from a cluster of islands in Indonesia and East Timor as deadly torrential downpours continue to threaten lives and cause widespread damage.
The death toll from the flash floods and landslides triggered by Cyclone Seroja rises by the hour as rescuers search for bodies washed to sea and as emergency crews reach villages that have been cut off in the damage caused by the rains.
Intense weather conditions with strong winds and high waves are making search and rescue operations hazardous and difficult, compounded by collapsed bridges and fallen trees that are blocking the roads.
The floods early on Monday morning struck while many were sleeping.
Some residents managed to haul themselves to their roofs to escape flood water rising to 3-4 metres.
The calamity has struck Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province, several islands in the west, and East Timor which shares Timor Island with Indonesia. About 30,000 people have been impacted.
The tropical cyclone behind the damage is expected to continue impacting the area for several days, and further hindering rescue efforts.