Another cyclone barrels toward disaster-struck Indonesia

Lembata, Indonesia: Authorities warned Friday that a new cyclone was heading toward Indonesia, threatening further flooding and landslides as the archipelago reeled from a storm that killed more than 200 people, including casualties in neighboring East Timor.

Tropical cyclone Odette was expected to bring heavy rains to south Sumatra and other parts of the region, including central Java and the tourist island of Bali.

Although the new storm was not expected to be as damaging as cyclone Seroja, which battered eastern Indonesia earlier this week, the national weather service warned that it had the potential to cause significant harm.

Everyone should be on the lookout for the possibility of strong winds and heavy rains... as well as floods and landslides, said Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the weather department.

Cyclone Seroja, one of the region's most strong storms in years, turned small villages into a wasteland of mud and uprooted trees, forcing thousands to flee to shelters amid widespread blackouts.

The threat of a new storm arrived as President Joko Widodo arrived on the hard-hit island of Lembata on Friday.

"I would like to express deepest condolences to the victims," the leader, better known as Jokowi, said from the disaster zone.

"I hope their souls will be accepted by God."

His visit came as the death toll from the floods and landslides soared once more.

In Indonesia, at least 165 people have been confirmed dead.

Another 42 people were killed in East Timor, a 1.3 million-person country sandwiched between Indonesia and Australia and officially known as Timor-Leste.

More than 50 people remain missing in the two Southeast Asian countries, and disaster officials are still combing through mountains of rubble for remains.

Authorities were scrambling to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and treat children affected by the tragedy as thousands of people crammed into evacuation centers.

"We are starting to provide counseling services for traumatized kids," said Josef Nae Soi, vice governor of disaster epicenter East Nusa Tenggara province.

Indonesian cargo planes and navy ships carrying aid have arrived in the area, and more than 4,000 military personnel have been sent to assist in the relief effort.

A hospital ship was also on its way to assist in the treatment of survivors in the area, where local medical clinics had become overburdened.

More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from disaster-stricken areas, and the hurricane has left many homeless.

The cyclone is now on its way to Australia, where authorities have advised tourists to evacuate a stretch of the country's west coast before it makes landfall late Sunday or early Monday.

During the rainy season, fatal landslides and flash floods are frequent across the Indonesian archipelago, with environmentalists blaming deforestation.

According to the disaster agency, 125 million Indonesians – almost half of the country's population – live in landslide-prone areas.

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