Fray Matías Human Rights Center, a migrants’ advocacy group in the southern city of Tapachula. “It’s not a second option.”

Some refugees inclined to stay in Mexico are seeking to reunify with relatives and friends who arrived earlier and put down roots, said Mr. Ramírez, director of the Mexican asylum agency, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance, or Comar.

Some are also drawn by Mexico’s enormous demand for low-income labor, a need that the government has advertised.

“If they compare the type of life they have in their own countries, at the end of the day they have it better here,” in Mexico, Mr. Ramírez said.

And the country’s approval rate for asylum is high: During the first three months of this year it reached 73 percent, with another 7 percent receiving other sorts of humanitarian protection.

Hondurans — fleeing a toxic mixture of economic distress, government corruption and ineptitude, violence and natural disasters — have been far and away the single largest population of asylum seekers in Mexico since 2019. Approval rates for Honduran petitions concluded during the first three months of this year hit 86 percent.

“We don’t know if it’s their first or their second intention” to remain in Mexico, Mr. Ramírez said of asylum petitioners. “What we can tell you is that more and more people are coming to us.”

The historic number of people filing new asylum petitions in March came despite a decision by the Mexican government last month to close the nation’s southern border to nonessential traffic. The continuing flows of refugees arriving from the south has further exposed the extreme porousness of that border and, migration experts say, the weakness of Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts.

“These are people who clearly don’t want to go back home,” said Cris Ramón, an immigration consultant based in Washington. “And they’re going to find a mechanism to stay in Mexico or in the United States.”

Oscar Lopez and Natalie Kitroeff contributed reporting

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Floods and Mudslides in Eastern Indonesia Leave at Least 41 Dead

The fatal alchemy of mud, water and sheer force struck in eastern Indonesia at an hour past midnight on Sunday, killing at least 41 people, disaster-relief officials said.

Flash flooding and landslides submerged entire neighborhoods in East Nusa Tenggara Province, which includes more than 560 islands. Seven villages were badly affected, according to Raditya Jati, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Twenty-seven people were missing, and nine were injured, he said.

Some of the worst damage was on the remote island of Adonara, where many residents were preparing to celebrate Easter Sunday. Torrential rain and strong winds had churned since the day before. The damage left dozens of houses under mud and water. Five bridges were severed, Mr. Raditya said.

The rescue effort has been hampered because the only access to Adonara is by sea, and waters are choppy because of the heavy rain, he said. But the priority is to ensure that survivors are moved to areas safe from further flooding or landslides.

plane crashes, boat accidents and other transportation lapses.

In January, landslides killed about 40 people on Java, Indonesia’s most populous island. There, a further mudslide hit after disaster management officials had gathered to help with search and rescue efforts. The chief of a local disaster relief agency and a captain in the Indonesian Army were among those killed.

Rampant deforestation in Indonesia has contributed to the risk of such disasters, leaving soil loose and at risk of coalescing into deadly mud flows when torrential rains come.

Before this weekend, the national meteorology department had warned of high rain intensity, Mr. Raditya said. But many residents of small, far-flung islands like Adonara have few safe places to shelter.

“I think the biggest challenge will be how to utilize heavy equipment,” Mr. Raditya said, referring to efforts to dig out people and homes in hopes of finding survivors.

But given the communications challenges, Mr. Raditya said he was not sure if adequate equipment was available on Adonara.

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Alabama tornadoes kill five as homes are destroyed and thousands lose power

At least five people have been killed and multiple injuries reported after a string of up to seven deadly tornadoes tore through Alabama, toppling trees, demolishing homes and knocking out power to thousands.

The confirmed deaths were in Calhoun County, in the eastern part of the state, where one of multiple twisters sprang from a “super cell” of storms that later moved into Georgia, said John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham.

Search and rescue efforts were complicated by strong weather that continued to hit the region. Radar “debris signatures” showed a tornado that formed in southwest Alabama traveled roughly 100 miles (161 km) and stayed on the ground for about an hour and 20 minutes, De Block said. He said on-sight investigations would determine the strength of the storms, but based on the debris signatures, “we’re pretty confident we will find at least seven tornadoes” passed through the state on Thursday.

The twisters ripped through towns from west to east. In the western city of Centreville, south of Tuscaloosa, Cindy Smitherman and her family and neighbors huddled in their underground storm pit as the twister passed over their home.

A tree fell on the shelter door, trapping the eight of them inside for about 20 minutes until someone came with a chain saw to remove the tree, said Smitherman, 62. The twister downed trees, overturned cars and destroyed a workshop on the property.
“I’m just glad we’re alive,” she said.

Firefighters said a family was able to safely escape their toppled home in the Eagle Point subdivision, near Birmingham. In the nearby city of Pelham,in Shelby county, authorities posted video and photos showing large trees blocking roads and damaged utility poles leaning menacingly over streets littered with debris from badly damaged homes. More than 20,000 customers were without power in the state.

“We can confirm local residential structures have been completely destroyed,” the sheriff of Shelby county, John Samaniego, told the Associated Press.

Search and rescue efforts were complicated as strong weather continued to rake across the region.

The storm inflicted extensive damage, including to numerous homes and a civic center, police said. Utility lines had also been downed along several highways, police said, warning people to stay off the road and away from tornado-damaged areas.

A firefighter surveys damage to a house in Eagle Point. Photograph: Butch Dill/AP

Maj Clay Hammac, of the Shelby county sheriff’s department, said they “have been told to be prepared for another round of storms”. Up to 4in (10cm) of rain with higher amounts possible is expected in northern Alabama, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

The destruction was part of a broad swath of violent weather sweeping across the deep south. Forecasters had warned of dangerous thunderstorms, flash floods and possible twisters from eastern Mississippi into western Georgia, and northward into Tennessee and Kentucky. Flash flood warnings and watches extended to the western Carolinas.

Mississippi also had a storm-related death on Wednesday. Ester Jarrell, 62, died when a large tree toppled over onto her mobile home after heavy rain soaked the ground, a Wilkinson County official told the Associated Press.

Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, issued an emergency declaration for 46 counties as the severe weather approached, and officials opened shelters in and around Birmingham. Ivey said “significant and dangerous weather continues to impact portions of Alabama”, according to a statement on Twitter.

“Tragically, we are receiving reports of loss of life. Unfortunately the day is not over yet.”

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