Search and rescue efforts are underway for at least 72 people missing on several remote islands across eastern Indonesia in the wake of a tropical cyclone that struck the region last week.
The torrential rains produced by Tropical Cyclone Seroja triggered flash floods and landslides that washed out bridges, downed trees and left roads thick with mud, which has complicated efforts by rescue crews to reach remote villages. At least 128 people have been killed, with thousands more displaced after their homes were damaged or destroyed.
One of the worst incidents happened on Lembata island, where scores of homes were destroyed when the rains dislodged hardened lava sitting along the slopes of Mount Ili Lewotolok volcano.
Tropical Cyclone Seroja also left a similar trail of destruction in neighboring East Timor, killing 27 people on the outskirts of the capital, Dili.
Seasonal flash floods and landslides kill dozens annually in Indonesia. Two landslides in West Java province back in January killed 40 people.
About half of the Pacific archipelago’s population, nearly 25 million people, live in areas where landslides are high-risk, according to the country’s disaster relief agency.