Jakarta (AP): Landslides and flash floods from torrential rains in eastern Indonesia have killed at least 23 people and displaced thousands, the disaster agency said Sunday.

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. Rescuers recovered 20 bodies and nine injured, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson.

Three more bodies were found of villagers who were swept away by flash floods in Oyang Bayang village.

In another village, Waiburak, four were injured and two are missing when overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district. Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were swept away by flash floods, Jati said.

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Hundreds of people were involved in rescue efforts, but the 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 neighbouring 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.



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