Subject: DPA: Death toll from floods in Indonesian West Timor rises to 127

Deutsche Presse-Agentur May 24, 2000, Thursday, BC Cycle

Death toll from floods in Indonesian West Timor rises to 127 Dili, East Timor

Devastating floods which swept through parts of Indonesian West Timor last week have left 127 people dead and 22,000 others in need of urgent food assistance, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Barbara Reis, spokeswoman for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), said U.N. and Indonesian government helicopters had evacuated 5,247 people to higher ground from the worst hit area of Malaka Tengah near the Indonesian-East Timor border.

Approximately 57,000 people, mostly East Timorese refugees, have been directly affected by the floods, which swept through several refugee camps in the Betun region of West Timor on May 17.

More than 100,000 East Timorese are living in squalid camps controlled by pro-Indonesian militias, after being forcibly evicted from their homes in East Timor following its vote for independence last August.

Reis said 631 East Timorese had sought help from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office to return home from the Betun area. Another 180 people had requested UNHCR assistance to repatriate from the West Timor border town of Atambua, she said. dpa md jc js

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