Indonesia warns of risk of landslides, floods from new cyclone

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Landslides triggered by tropical cyclone Seroja in East Flores

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's weather agency warned on Friday that a second tropical cyclone in the space of a week could trigger floods and landslides in more central areas after cyclone Seroja killed 163 people in eastern parts of the country.

Rescuers have been searching for missing people and rushing in aid to islands in East Nusa Tenggara province after Seroja lashed the area with rain, floods and landslides on Sunday.

The head of Indonesia's weather agency (BMKG) said a new cyclone, named Odette, was gaining traction and could hit Lampung province on the island of Sumatra, as well as the provinces of East Java and Central Java and the island of Bali.

"People are advised to remain cautious of heavy winds and rains that could happen in some areas and be mindful of threats of floods, landslides and flash floods," Dwikorita Karnawati told a news conference.

While Odette was not expected to be as destructive as Seroja, she warned it could generate tidal surges as high as 6 metres (19.7 ft) in the southern Indian Ocean near Java and Bali, urging fishermen to take precautions.

Seroja damaged thousands of homes and displaced over 22,800 people, according to data from Indonesia's national disaster mitigation agency, while 45 people remain missing.

President Joko Widodo, who flew to East Nusa Tenggara on Friday to survey recovery efforts, said that while the needs of displaced people were being met in the area he visited, access was being blocked by large boulders.

"If we look at the field, it's so rocky with big rocks that could complicate our heavy equipment," he said.

The weather agency has warned that once-rare tropical cyclones are happening more often in Indonesia.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies)