Merapi Eruptions Leave 200 Missing

In Asia, News Headlines, Volcanoes

Indonesian rescue workers intensified the search for bodies and survivors on the slopes of Mount Merapi with more than 200 people reported missing in the volcano’s eruptions, officials said Tuesday.

Soldiers, police and volunteers combed villages as thick, hot ash that blanketed them began to cool.

Rescuers found one body Tuesday morning in the Ngancar hamlet of the Sleman district, about 10 kilometres from the crater in central Java. Some homes were still burning.

The National Disaster Management Agency put the death toll at 141 since the volcano began erupting Oct 26 with more than 450 injured. Many victims suffered serious burns.

Health officials in the nearby city of Yogyakarta said as many as 218 residents living in the danger zone had been reported missing by their relatives.

Some villagers had returned to the Srumbung hamlet of the Magelang district to feed surviving livestock while others were cleaning up thick dust covering their houses. Many complained of boredom after living in temporary shelters for more than two weeks.

In some areas, soldiers assisted residents in clearing the ash and pumice from streets.

Searing gas and ash have burned homes, animals and vegetation and destroyed as many as 26 hamlets and scorched up to 867 hectares of forest. More than 200,000 people displaced by the disaster might have to stay in emergency shelters for months.

The 2,968-metre peak’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.

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