Torrential rain sparked widespread destruction in the South East Asian neighbours, with water from overflowing dams submerging thousands of homes. The affected area stretches from Flores island in eastern Indonesia to East Timor. In Indonesia alone, 80 people have died with dozens still missing. Officials warn the toll could still rise.
"The mud and the extreme weather have become a serious challenge and the debris piling up has hampered the search and rescue team," Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Djati told BBC reporters. "We suspect many people are buried but it's not clear how many are missing," his colleague Alfons Hada Bethan, head of the East Flores disaster agency, said.
"The evacuees are spread out. There are hundreds in each sub-district but many others are staying at home. They need medicine, food, blankets. At least 21 people have also died in East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, news agencies quoted officials in the island nation as saying.
In January this year, authorities said the country had seen 185 disasters since the start of the year, including earthquakes, tornadoes, landslides and floods. According to the National Disaster Management Agency, BNPB, hydrometeorological disasters dominate the list, with 127 flood events and 30 landslides recorded in several regions of the country during the period 01 to 21 January 2021.
At least 166 people died in the disasters, including 91 in earthquakes, 41 in landslides and 34 as a result of floods. The worst of the recent flooding occurred in South Kalimantan, where at least 15 people died. Flooding in Banjarmasin City, the capital of the province, has affected over 100,000 people.
The worst of the landslides occurred in Cimanggung District, Sumedang Regency, West Java Province on 09 January 2021. As of 15 January, BNPB confirmed 24 fatalities. More recently, severe flooding has affected parts of Central Java Province. BNPB reported that 12,065 houses were submerged and 191 people were displaced by flooding in Pekalongan City, Central Java, on 19 January 2021. Over 60,000 people are thought to have been affected. As of 21 January, flooding was slowly receding.RSOE Alertmap showing current disasters in Indonesia
In January, Mount Semeru, the highest volcano on Indonesia's most densely populated island of Java, spewed hot clouds as far away as 4.5 kilometres (nearly 3 miles). Indonesia's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center did not raise Semeru's alert status, which already had been at the third-highest level since it began erupting in May. The volcano spewed hot ash for 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) in early December, triggering panic among villagers. Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and is prone to massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes daily. Back in January, along with the eruption of Mount Semeru, Indonesia's Mount Sinabung, Merapi, Lewatolo, Mount Ibu and Mount Dukono are all erupting with a further 3 showing activity.
Meanwhile, at least 56 people have been killed after an earthquake struck Indonesia’s West Sulawesi province in January, their 2nd major quake, mag 6 or higher, of 2021, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, the latest in a string of disasters to hit the Southeast Asian country. More than 820 people were injured and about 15,000 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake, the BNPB said. Some sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centres, witnesses said.
Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s meteorological, climatology and geophysical agency (BMKG), has said that another quake in the region could potentially trigger a tsunami. Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.