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Indonesia seeds clouds to block rainfall after floods killed at least 58 people while 35 are missing

TANAH DATAR, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian authorities seeded clouds on Wednesday, trying to prevent further rain and flash floods after deluges that hit the country’s Sumatra Island over the weekend left at least 58 people dead and another 35 missing.

Monsoon rains triggered a landslide of mud and cold lava from Mount Marapi, eventually causing rivers to breach their banks. The deluge tore through mountainside villages in four districts in West Sumatra province just before midnight on Saturday.

The floods swept away people and 79 homes and submerged hundreds of houses and buildings, forcing more than 1,500 families to flee to temporary government shelters, according to National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

He said that 58 bodies had been pulled from mud and rivers by Wednesday, mostly in the worst-hit Agam and Tanah Datar districts, while rescuers are searching for 35 people who are reportedly missing. About 33 villagers were injured.

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency head Dwikorita Karnawati has said that more downpours were forecast for West Sumatra in the coming days, and that the danger of extreme rainfall would continue until next week.

Karnawati said an air force plane was sent up to shoot salt flares into the clouds on Wednesday, in an attempt to get the clouds to release water and break up before they reach the devastated areas in Agam, Tanah Datar, Padang Panjang, Padang Pariaman as well as Padang city, the provincial capital.

The method is known as cloud seeding and creates precipitation, thereby modifying weather.

Indonesia’s air force teamed up with the country’s technology agency to carry out three rounds of cloud seeding on Wednesday, Karnawati said, adding