Death toll from Indonesia’s volcano eruptions is 240

Saturday, November 13, 2010

YOGYAKARTA - The death toll from the eruptions of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi rose to 240 Saturday as the search for more victims was ongoing, a disaster official said.

Television footage showed military rescuers finding charred bones of victims as they dug through thick volcanic debris that incinerated homes near the mountain.

The death toll could rise as the search for victims were continuing, said an official at the National Disaster Management Agency who declined to give his name.

Wisnu Joko, the head of a local military rescue team, said nine bodies were found Friday in the Cangkringan area of Sleman district.

“Information from families indicates that dozens of people are still missing and suspected to have been buried when hot ash clouds rained down on their homes,” he said.

Merapi erupted for the first time in four years on Oct 26. The Central Java volcano’s biggest blast in decades occurred Nov 5, leaving more than 100 people dead and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

More than 390,000 people living near the volcano were staying in

emergency shelters, the disaster agency said.

The country’s top vulcanologist, Surono, warned Friday that even though Merapi was showing less intensity, it was still difficult to predict when the volcano would stop spewing hot gases and debris.

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.

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

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