Tropical cyclone kills at least 97 in Indonesia and East Timor

Thousands forced from homes by floods and landslides caused by Tropical Cyclone Seroja

Floods and landslides caused by Tropical Cyclone Seroja killed almost 100 people on islands in south-east Indonesia and East Timor, with many people still unaccounted for and thousands displaced.

At least 70 deaths were reported in Indonesia's West and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, while 70 were missing, disaster agency BNPB said.

The cyclone brought flash floods, landslides and strong winds amid heavy rain at the weekend.

In East Timor, which shares the Timor island with Indonesia, at least 27 people were killed by landslides, flash floods and a falling tree, while 7,000 were displaced, its government said.

Authorities on Lembata island feared bodies had been washed away.

"We are using rubber boats to find bodies at sea," said Thomas Ola Langoday, deputy head of Lembata district government.

"In several villages, flash floods hit while people were sleeping."

About 30,000 people have been affected by floods in Indonesia, with some taking shelter in evacuation centres,

But rescue operations were made difficult after five bridges collapsed and falling trees blocked roads, BNPB spokesman Raditya Jati said.

A continuing storm halted evacuation in some places, local authorities said.

Hundreds of houses and centres including a solar power plant were damaged, BNPB said.

Ships and motor boats sank as the cyclone set off waves as high as six metres.

Powerful currents continued to flow through villages in the Malaka district on Timor island on Monday, even though the rain had stopped.

Some residents there hauled themselves to their roofs to escape floodwater rising up to four metres.

"We had to dismantle the zinc roof. We went out through the back door and pulled ourselves out with a rope," said Agustina Luruk, 36.

Ms Luruk and her three daughters were waiting by a muddy road to be moved to safety.

President Joko Widodo offered his condolences and ordered quick disaster relief.

Seroja hit the Savu Sea south-west of Timor island in the early hours of Monday, Indonesia's weather agency said.

The cyclone could strengthen, bringing yet more rain, waves and wind, although it was moving away from Indonesia, the agency said.

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