Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Much of the Timor-Leste capital of Dili has been heavily flooded with rivers bursting their banks after three days of heavy rain over the Easter weekend, say disaster relief officials.
The floodwaters in some parts of the city have reached many metres deep with houses on the banks of the Comoro River being dragged into the raging waters, reports Lusa news agency.
The Civil Protection agency told Lusa that it was difficult to take full stock of the situation and determine the full numbers of casualties because ′′the whole city is a disaster zone”.
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However, some reports say at least 11 people have died. The floods have come on top of a city already reeling from a serious covid-19 pandemic crisis.
Part of the oceanside Avenue de Portugal, where some embassies are located, has been seriously flooded with the waters entering the homes, including the Lusa office.
Several residents, including Portuguese citizens, have already been forced to leave their homes in spite of the difficulties of moving around Dili because of the floodwaters.
The high tide overnight and large volume of river water has raised the levels across almost the city, with civil protection teams, firefighters and government emergency services desperately spread around the city trying to help people.
Throughout the early morning residents in several parts of the city sent photos and videos to Lusa attesting to the fury of the floodwaters in some places.
An unknown number of families have lost their homes, with several areas – including the Presidential Palace compound – being flooded.
There is also concern about two places used to isolate patients suffering from covid-19 – the Vera Cruz Centre in Dili and the Tasitolu area.
Over the past few days, weather services have warned of the risk of heavy rainfall in several parts of the country, prominently on the north coast, due to the effects of a low pressure system, located on the Indonesian western part of the island of Timor.
Heavy rains had already caused problems in several municipalities in the country in recent days, with reports of destroyed homes and other infrastructure affected, including roads and bridges.
Some residents say the rainfall and situation in Dili today was significantly more serious than last year on 13 March 2020 when flooding affected tens of thousands of people in the capital.
Older residents have told Lusa they do not remember heavy flooding like this in Dili since the 1970s.