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Timor-government Leste’s says it would seek assistance from Australia and other countries in the aftermath of devastating floods that have killed hundreds and displaced thousands.

Officials reported late Tuesday that the disaster’s death toll had risen to 34.

However, with at least another eight people missing, the number is likely to increase.

Heavy rains and floods have wreaked havoc on neighboring Indonesian islands, killing at least 130 people and leaving hundreds more missing.

The Australian government is especially concerned about the risk of waterborne diseases, as well as clean water and food shortages in Timor-Leste, to Australia’s north.

Outside of Dili, where raging waters and mudslides have swept away homes, damaged highways, and carried away bridges, government officials and NGOs are still scrambling to assess the full extent of the destruction.

Timor Government Minister Fidelis Leite Magalhes said the government was still evaluating the floods’ effects, but that his country would request additional assistance soon.

“The government would request assistance from friendly countries, especially Australia considering its closeness and available resources and experience in disaster management, after conducting its assessment of the damage,” he told the ABC.

“But the Australian embassy and its agencies are working very hard side-by-side with the Timorese government and its people.”

Vaccine Delivery Will Continue Amid the Floods

COVID-19 may have spread quickly as a result of the floods, which disrupted a lockdown in Dili and forced thousands of people to seek refuge in a dozen refuges.

On Tuesday, Timor-Leste registered its first COVID-19 death, bringing the total number of active cases to nearly 500.

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The country’s first batch of COVID vaccines arrived in Dili yesterday, thanks to the COVAX facility.

Despite the damage caused by the floods, UN agencies and the government of Timor-Leste expect to start administering vaccines on Wednesday.

Mr Magalhes claimed that Australia had already given vital medical assistance to Timor-Leste in order to help the country test for COVID-19 and control the disease’s spread.

“We are also very thankful of Australia’s assistance in the fight against COVID-19, which would have been impossible without Australia’s support,” he said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said yesterday that Australia was ready to support Timor-Leste further, but the federal opposition has pressed the Coalition to start planning as soon as possible.

Labor MP Luke Gosling of the Northern Territory told ABC local radio in Darwin that Australia needed to “step up.”

“I’ve given (the government) some free advice, which is to start getting assets pre-deployed before heading over to Timor, particularly to help out with fresh drinking water,” he said.

“Because it takes a while to mobilise that sort of support.

“You don’t have to wait to get the official letter from the Timor-Leste Government to know that this is a city in crisis.”

Source: ABC World News

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