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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Indonesia volcano eruption

Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano eruption death toll hits 25.

Indonesia volcano eruption
Indonesia volcano News Updates! The death toll following the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano has risen to 25, officials say, amid fears of fresh eruptions.

Experts told the BBC that the ash levels had subsided a little, but that their readings suggested there would be more volcanic activity soon.

Thousands fled their homes on Tuesday as ash spewed out of the volcano, turning the landscape white.

But many people refused to leave, and rescuers fear the death toll may rise.

One rescuer, Christian Awuy, told the BBC that he feared up to 50 could have been killed.

Many people ignored the initial warnings and stayed behind, reluctant to leave their properties and livestock.

Mr Awuy said about 10,000 people had been evacuated to makeshift shelters with straw sleeping mats and bags of clothes and food.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey, who is at the scene, says people are also trying to return to their homes.

She says farmers, particularly young men, are returning to the volcano's slopes to check on their livestock and property.

Although an exclusion zone has been set up around the volcano there are lots of small lanes that give access to the slopes, and this is making it very difficult for the authorities to keep track of people, our correspondent says.

Endita Sri Andiyanti, a spokeswoman at the main local hospital, said 25 people were dead and more than a dozen others were being treated for injuries including severe burns.

A two-month-old baby was among the dead.

The man known as the volcano's spiritual gatekeeper, Mbah or grandfather Marijan, was also found dead in his house about 4km (2.5 miles) from the summit.

For many Javanese, Merapi is a sacred site. Marijan was appointed by the nearby ruler to mediate with the spirits of the mountain.

Eyewitnesses say the area is covered by a layer of dust.

A cameraman for Reuters was quoted as saying: "Several houses and cattle have been burned by the hot cloud from the mountain. All the houses are blanketed in ash, completely white. The leaves have been burned off the trees."

Government vulcanologist Subandrio told the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta that the volcanic activity appeared to have subsided based on the recordings of the levels of hot ash in the air.

However, he said he expected more eruptions soon, although there was no way of telling when or how big they would be.


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