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By Mohd Shukri Ishak
JAKARTA, April 6 -- The death toll from the mud floods, landslides and strong winds due to the Tropical Cyclone Seroja in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia has risen to 128 as the search and rescue teams continue to look for victims still buried under the landslides and mud floods.
Indonesian National Board For Disaster Management (BNPB) chief Doni Monardo, in an online media conference via webinar this afternoon, said the extreme weather had (based on data as of this morning) resulted in the destruction of over 2,000 houses and public amenities, uprooting of trees as well as causing power and communications outages.
“As of last night, a total of 8,424 people have been placed in temporary evacuation centres while 72 people have been reported missing (based on available data as of now). The BPNP is using 13 helicopters in its search and rescue operations together with the police and army,” he told the media conference, which was also broadcast live via the official YouTube channel of the Indonesian Presidential Secretariat.
A total of 10 districts, namely, East Flores, Central Malaka, Lembata, Ngada, Akar, East Sumba, Rote Ndao, Sabu Raijua, South Central Timor and Ende, as well as the city of Kota Kupang have been severely affected by the extreme weather since April 3.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) head Dwikorita Karnawati said this was the first time the Tropical Cyclone Seroja had hit the land, thus causing the disaster.
“This is the first time that the (Tropical Cyclone) Seroja has hit the land. This is not common. It is forecast that strong winds of 70 knots (130km per hour) will still occur until tomorrow, while waves are estimated to be as high as between 2.5-meter and 6m… these waves are like a tsunami, but not a tsunami,” she said.