Stephen Dziedzic and Anastacio Medeira Araujo in Dili – When the floods came, Markus dos Santos lost almost everything. His wife and three children were all buried by a massive avalanche of mud and water which smashed into their house.
Markus remembers desperately scrabbling through the ruins, trying to pull his two young daughters to safety as they called for help.
"I remember my eldest daughter – I managed to climb up to where she was," he told the ABC not far from the wreckage of his house on the outskirts of Timor-Leste's capital, Dili.
"The mud was already up to [her throat]. She called for me, 'Dad, Dad, come quickly. I'm going to die soon'.
"Then I heard the voice of my second daughter. She was buried. I could just see her head and hear her voice."
Mud and debris continued to rain down, but Markus was strong enough to pull both girls to safety.
But his wife, Maria, was killed in the deluge. Neighbours found her body and broke the news to Markus the next day.
A modest shrine has now been set up to commemorate her, with two candles and a small picture of the cross.
Markus also lost his two-year-old son, Zebrito. The toddler's body – most likely buried underneath the rubble – has still not been found.
"At dawn, I was called for by one man. He said they found my wife's [body] but hadn't found my son. I was speechless," Markus said. "I didn't know what to say. I do not know what else to do."
'We need to spread out'
Timor-Leste is still reeling from the disastrous floods which hit on Sunday in the wake of torrential rains. The death toll has now grown to at least 42, with many still missing.
The number of displaced people taking shelter in evacuation centres also continues to swell. Local government officials estimate more than 14,000 people are now living in evacuation hubs and they are increasingly worried about the spread of disease, as well as food shortages.
Madalena Hanjan Da Costa Soares, the president of Timor-Leste Red Cross, told the ABC that her organisation had to provide temporary shelter to mothers with very young children who needed special care.
"It's really difficult ... we are providing our headquarters to accommodate a few of the most vulnerable people. Pregnant mothers and their babies under two," she said. "We have babies at one week, two week(s) old [who] we are accommodating."
The floods disrupted a city-wide COVID-19 lockdown in the capital Dili and experts warn the pandemic could rip through parts of the city in the wake of the disaster.
Ms Da Costa Soares said her organisation was trying to maintain social distancing in shelters, but the burgeoning numbers made that increasingly hard.
"We try to spread out but it's difficult because there are more victims still coming to the evacuation centres," she said.
'Normally the flood is not big like this'
The country is now pressing on with the long and hard task of recovery, with locals spending hours trying to clean out thick mud from their homes.
Dili resident Charles Muekel told the ABC that he had moved in with other family members after floodwaters left his house a broken mess.
"We cannot sleep here because of the mud," he said. Mr Muekel said the floods on Sunday were terrifying.
"Normally the flood is not big like this. In our backyard, there is a big fence, but the fence is falling down and the water is coming. So fast. We are using ropes to [go through] the water," he said. "Of course [it's scary] as we have a lot of small kids."
'People are still desperate'
While many Dili residents face great uncertainty and economic strain, locals have also banded together to help those displaced.
Cesar Gaio was set to open his new restaurant "Dilicious Timor" in early March before his plans were disrupted – first by the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases and then by the floods.
But this week he turned his restaurant into a soup kitchen serving thousands of meals to locals who had lost their homes in the disaster. "Yesterday we delivered 3,800 meals. We delivered to those who are in need," he said.
At first, Mr Gaio paid for the food out of his own pocket. But he said donations had now started to flow both from locals and from overseas, allowing him to send money to other restaurants providing similar relief.
"Many people have started to ask, 'Hey how can we help you?' A friend of mine in Australia contacted me and said, 'Hey can we do a fundraiser?'" he said.
"People are happy they can be fed for a day. [But] people are still desperate. There are more requests for food."
'I entrust all this to the authorities now'
Late on Thursday, Timor-Leste's government met and gave the Foreign Minister the green light to "seek and galvanise international assistance" in the wake of the floods.
"We are open to all kinds of assistance," Timor government minister Fidelis Magalhaes told the ABC. He also flagged that Timor-Leste would soon formally request help from the Australian government.
"With regards to Australia, our foreign ministry and embassy in Canberra have been in discussions with the Australian side since the first hours of the floods," he said.
"Now the foreign minister will officially inform the Australian side with the specifics."
Mr Magalhaes said the government wanted to rebuild ruined infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, as quickly as possible, but still faced daunting challenges.
"While the immediate threats have subsided, now we are struggling with the aftermath of the cyclone," he said. "We fear diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and a possible calamitous COVID-19 outbreak."
Some senior politicians have also criticised the government's response, accusing it of moving too slowly.
On Thursday, the leader of the Fretilin party, former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, said Timor Leste's senior ministers "should have formalised the requests for help by now."
Several United Nations agencies have been helping to coordinate the immediate humanitarian relief effort on the ground, while Australia's embassy has already provided some assistance on the ground.
But Mr Alkatiri said many remote areas in Timor-Leste were still struggling badly.
"We need at least one large cargo-carrying helicopter [to help] because there are isolated areas in parts of the country with cut-off roads and which cannot get supplies," he told the Portuguese news agency Lusa.
And even in Dili, many survivors face a daunting and uncertain future.
Markus dos Santos told the ABC he needed help. His two daughters are currently being cared for by a church organisation, but the family faces a bleak and difficult future.
"I have no idea what to do with my life from here on, he told the ABC.
"I lost everything. The house. [The clothes] on my body is what I have at the moment. I entrust all this to the authorities now. I am just waiting to see what kind of help they will give."