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Rescuers Hunt For Survivors After Cyclone Wreaks Havoc In Indonesia

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. Images from the region on Monday showed downed trees, choppy seas and wooden homes flattened by the storm and debris floating in muddy floodwater.

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

Langoday feared many bodies were still buried under large rocks.

President Joko Widodo held a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to speed up evacuation and relief efforts and the restoration of power.

“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 centres getting overcrowded and that authorities would provide rapid COVID-19 testing kits to try to prevent an outbreak.

Reuters

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