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Rescuers hunt for survivors after cyclone wreaks havoc in Indonesia

April 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 70.6%. 2 min read.

Rescuers searched for dozens of people missing in remote islands of southeast Indonesia on Tuesday while expecting more casualties in the aftermath of a tropical cyclone that has killed at least 128.

Rescuers searched for dozens of people missing in remote islands of southeast Indonesia on Tuesday while expecting more casualties in the aftermath of a tropical cyclone that has killed at least 128.

Helicopters were deployed to aid the search for survivors among 72 people reported missing so far in the East Nusa Tenggara islands, where tropical cyclone Seroja brought strong winds and heavy rains that triggered flash floods and landslides.

An amateur video taken by a local official in Tanjung Batu village on Lembata island, home to the Mount Ile Lewotolok volcano, showed felled trees and large rocks of cold lava that had crushed homes after being dislodged by the cyclone.

Authorities said the death toll could rise as rescuers reach more isolated areas.

At least 8,424 people were displaced, nearly 2,000 buildings including a hospital impacted, and more than 100 homes heavily damaged by the cyclone, which had moved over the Indian Ocean by Tuesday morning, headed towards northern Australia.

Weather agency head Dwikorita Karnawati said once-rare tropical cyclones were happening more often in Indonesia and climate change could be to blame.

In nearby West Nusa Tenggara province, authorities on Monday said two had died, while in neighboring country East Timor at least 27 have died.

Lembata suffered a volcano eruption last month, wiping out vegetation atop the mountain, which allowed hardened lava to slide towards 300 houses when the cyclone struck, he said.

"If we cannot reach there by road, I ask that we swiftly open the access by sea as well as by air," the president said, adding that extreme weather had hampered aid distribution.

Search and rescue agency chief Doni Monardo on Tuesday said help was on the way from the military and volunteers.

Monardo said there were health concerns about evacuation centers getting overcrowded and that authorities would provide rapid COVID-19 testing kits to try to prevent an outbreak.

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