JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ At least 547 East Timorese refugees sheltering in squalid camps throughout Indonesian-controlled West Timor have died in the past nine months, the province's governor said Wednesday.

Most of the deaths were due to malaria, respiratory problems and various natural disasters including massive flooding, Gov. Piet Tallo said in a telephone interview.

More than 250,000 East Timorese were forced to flee their homes after violence broke out last year after the province voted to split from Indonesia. About 150,000 people have returned to their homeland, which borders West Timor.

About 100,000, however, remain in the camps despite efforts to encourage them to return home.

Tallo praised the efforts of international emergency relief agencies operating in the region, saying that without them many more people would have died.