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24,000 evacuated, two dead in Indonesian floods

About 24,000 people have been evacuated and two children killed in floods on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, authorities said Tuesday. Torrential rains lashed the island for several days, causing rivers to burst their banks and water levels to rise in residential areas, the national disaster agency said. The environmental NGO Walhi said the flooding was exacerbated by deforestation to make way for Sumatra's vast palm oil plantations. Trees provide natural defences against flooding, as they slow the speed at which water rushes down the hills and into the rivers.