160 dead, thousands displaced as Cyclone Seroja hits Indonesia, East Timor

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At least 160 people have died and dozens more missing after Cyclone Seroja (a circular air movement that starts over the warm ocean waters in the warm part of Earth near the Equator) hit Indonesia and East Timor, triggering flash floods and landslides that uprooted trees, blocked roads and turned small communities into wastelands of mud.

According to the Associated Press, there were at least 133 reported in Indonesia and 27 in East Timor, while more than 400 people were evacuated and thousands more affected, ​as a result of the tropical cyclone.

Several bridges also collapsed and at least one ship sank in high waves triggered by the Cyclone, it added.

In East Timor, which shares the Timor island with Indonesia, 27 people were killed by landslides, flash floods and a falling tree, mostly in the capital Dili. More than 1,500 people were evacuated, Main Director of Civil Protection, Ismael da Costa Babo, told reporters.

However, Indonesian President Joko Widodo offered his condolences and urged residents to follow the direction from field officers during extreme weather.

“I have ordered for disaster relief efforts to be conducted quickly and well,” he said in remarks streamed online.

Across the region, scared residents have flocked to temporary shelters or taken refuge in what was left of their homes.

“The evacuees are spread out. There are hundreds in each sub-district but many others are staying at home,” said Alfons Hada Bethan, the head of the East Flores disaster agency. “They need medicine, food, blankets.”

The Seroja cyclones intensity is expected to strengthen, bringing yet more rain, waves and winds, although it was moving away from Indonesia.

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