Indonesian volcano eruptions ease, toll rises to 191

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

JAKARTA - The intensity of eruptions from Indonesia’s Mount Merapi had eased but the volcano was still dangerous, an expert said Wednesday, urging residents to remain in evacuation centres as the death toll rose to 191.

Merapi Wednesday spewed columns of grey smoke and ash up to 2,500 metres into the air and sent hot clouds down its slopes.

“Compared to the activity on Nov 3-6, the volcano’s eruption intensity is declining, but activity is still high,” said Surono, head of the Centre of Vulcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation. Like many Indonesians he uses only one name.

“Merapi’s alert status is still at top level, and the danger zones are maintained at a radius of 20 km (from the crater),” Surono said, appealing to evacuees remain at the temporary shelters and follow directions from local authorities.

Rescuers found the body of a woman at a mosque in Ngancar, a hamlet in Sleman district, Wednesday. Searches continued for more victims and survivors in the danger zones, where more than 200 people are still reported missing.

The National Disaster Management Agency raised the death toll to 191 since the volcano began erupting Oct 26 with nearly 600 others injured. More than 300,000 residents were displaced.

Soldiers also tightened access to the danger zone to prevent evacuees from returning to their homes. Many left the shelters to feed their animals or check on their property.

Evacuees said they expected the government to fulfil its promise to provide immediate compensation for livestock killed in the eruption.

The 2,968-metre volcano’s deadliest eruption on record occurred in 1930 when 1,370 people were killed. At least 66 people died in a 1994 eruption, and two people were killed in 2006, the latest eruption before Merapi rumbled back to life last month.

Indonesia has about 500 volcanoes, nearly 130 of them active and 68 classified as dangerous.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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