JAKARTA: At least 44 people were killed after flash floods and landslides swept an island in Indonesia's easternmost province Sunday morning, rescue officials said, adding they expected the toll to rise.
"There are 44 people dead with nine injured" in East Flores regency, and "many (...) are still under the mud", National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said.
Mud rolled down from surrounding hills shortly after midnight and struck nearly 50 houses in Lamenele village on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara province.
Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were swept away by flash floods, Jati said.
Hundreds of people were involved in rescue efforts, but distribution of aid and relief was hampered by power cuts, blocked roads and the remoteness of the area that's surrounded by choppy waters and high waves, Jati said.
Photos released by the agency showed rescuers and police and military personnel taking residents to shelters while roads were covered by thick mud and debris.
Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighboring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee, Jati said.
Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods and kill dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.
In January, 40 people died in two landslides in West Java province.
(Inputs from AP, AFP)