Over 120 deaths and thousands left homeless after flooding and landslides in Timor-Leste and Indonesia

07 Apr 21

Caritas Australia is raising funds to support Timor-Leste and Indonesia after 120 people were killed and thousands left homeless from extensive flooding and landslides.  

Since April 4, the small nation of Timor-Leste and Indonesia have been inundated by extreme weather from Tropical Cyclone Seroja, one of the most destructive storms to hit the region in years.  

Rescuers continue to search for dozens of people missing after the floods and landslides uprooted trees, damaged infrastructure and swept away villages in Timor-Leste and Indonesia. 

In Timor-Leste, 34 people have been officially listed as dead since Sunday, with another 86 deaths reported in Indonesia.  

According to preliminary reports from Timor-Leste, approximately 10,325 people have been affected by the extreme weather, with over 76 per cent of the affected people in Dili municipality. The rains have been so heavy in Dili that the presidential palace in the capital has been transformed into a mud pit.  

In Indonesia at least 2,655 people over 18 districts have been affected by the flooding or landslides, with significant damage to households, bridges and roads.   

The packed shelters across Timor-Leste have increased concerns about a potential spike in COVID-19 cases, as the country is currently experiencing the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Despite the current lockdown, families were forced to evacuate as a result of the flooding.  

“It is critical that we respond quickly to support the people impacted by this emergency,” said Bernice Sarpong, Caritas Australia's Humanitarian Program Coordinator for Asia. “Timor-Leste has experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past month, and the last thing we want is a widespread outbreak that could overwhelm the country’s fragile health care system.” 

Vital infrastructure for fighting COVID-19 has also been damaged, including the main laboratory where testing is conducted and the warehouse where the majority of COVID-19 supplies are stored.  

In neighbouring Indonesia, there have been more than 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 41,000 deaths.  

Caritas Australia is working with local partners, including churches and NGOs, to assess needs on the ground and provide immediate support to vulnerable communities.  

Caritas Australia is accepting donations through its Timor-Leste & Indonesia Floods Emergency Appeal to provide support for emergencies like flooding and landslides in Timor-Leste. 

Visit caritas.org.au or call 1800 024 413 toll free to provide much needed support to some of our closest neighbours. 

Media contact: Jessica Stone on 0490 684 867 / jessica.stone@caritas.org.au or caritasmedia@caritas.org.au.