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Indonesia earthquake deaths top 6,000

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  • #16

    Indonesian men watch as the Mount Merapi volcano erupts with giant clouds of hot gas and ash, Wednesday June 14, 2006, outside of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

    MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia - Large eruptions of searing hot gas and debris forced more than 1,000 villagers to flee Mount Merapi's slopes Wednesday, and authorities raised the volcano's alert level to its highest status again, just a day after they let people go back home.

    A gas cloud nearly enveloped one village, and ash covered another village that was 4 1/2 miles from the crater with a gray blanket an inch thick, officials said. Up to 20,000 people are living in the mandatory evacuation zone.

    The alert level was dropped a notch Tuesday, sparking widespread relief for people who have spent weeks in evacuation camps. That relief quickly turned to concern Wednesday.

    "We were very happy to go back in the morning but as soon as we got there we saw a massive cloud steaming toward us," Egan said after being trucked back to the camp. "We all decided it was time to leave."

    Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia's most dangerous and unpredictable volcanoes, has been venting massive clouds of hot gas and debris and sending lava flows streaming down its slopes for more than a month.

    Activity had slowed in recent days, allowing villagers to return home. They were told to stay alert, and evacuation trucks remained on standby in each village.

    "When we downgraded the status, we said that if its activities increased and we thought it was dangerous to the people, then we will review it," government scientist Subandrio told el-Shinta radio station when he announced the alert status had been raised again.

    Wednesday's deadly gas clouds rolled more than three miles down the slope and nearly enveloped one village, said Triyani, another government scientist who also goes by a single name.

    Some 12,000 in seven villages in the Magelang district, on the mountain's west side, were ordered to leave, said district official Edy Susanto. Some were awaiting trucks to take them to shelters as dusk fell.

    "The villagers are confused. They said it was safe, but hot clouds re-emerged. One thing for sure, we have readied ourselves to evacuate anytime," said Budiono, the chief of Ngargosoko, a village six miles from the peak that was ordered evacuated.

    Despite the danger, many people have stayed put in the last month, citing the need to look after homes, crops and animals.

    The main dangers at the 9,700-foot Merapi are fast-moving bursts of blistering gases and rock fragments called pyroclastic flow.

    One killed more than 60 villagers in 1994, and about 1,300 people died when Merapi erupted in 1930.

    Indonesian volcano spews gas, debris


    • #17

      Indonesia's Mount Merapi spews lava as seen from Deles village, outside Yogyakarta, early Thursday, June 15, 2006

      MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia - Soldiers wearing heat-retardant clothing dug through volcanic debris Thursday trying to reach two men trapped in an underground emergency shelter on Indonesia's most volatile volcano.

      The fierce heat melted the troops' shovels and the tires on a mechanical digger brought in to plow through more than six feet of debris covering the bunker, which was built for protection from volcanic eruptions, said Maj. Sunarso, who goes by one name.

      The two men have been trapped since late Wednesday when Merapi sent massive clouds of searing gas and rock fragments rolling far down its slopes. Rescuers made contact with one of the men late Wednesday, but their phones were no longer working and it was unclear if they were still alive.

      By nightfall, the soldiers had dug away the debris surrounding the door, but found it blocked by a large hot boulder, said senior disaster official Heka, who also goes by a single name. The operation was suspended until Friday morning.

      Merapi continued to spew out scorching gas clouds and rock fragments Thursday, with one black plume in the mid-afternoon covering a large swathe of the mountain. No injuries or fresh property damage were reported.

      Scientist Antonius Ratdomopurbo said the resurgence in activity was likely caused by the collapse of a section of the volcano's lava dome, which has been growing in recent weeks as lava emerges from its core.

      The two trapped men, believed to be emergency workers helping evacuate villagers from the mountain, were inside the shelter under volcanic debris as hot as 572 degrees Fahrenheit, officials said.

      The bunkers, several of which dot the slopes of Merapi, are typically equipped with water and food and emergency supplies of oxygen.

      "God willing, they can survive for three days," senior disaster official Heka, who also uses a single name.

      Merapi is one of more than 70 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

      The main dangers at Merapi are fast-moving bursts of blistering gases and rock fragments called pyroclastic flow. Experts say a massive vertical eruption threatening people many miles away will not occur....

      Indonesians trapped beneath volcano debris


      • #18
        Emergency relief plans for the Indonesian earthquake are hamstrung because of a lack of funds from donors and the international community, six non-government organisations working on relief efforts said.

        Oxfam International, Islamic Relief, World Vision, CARE Indonesia, CARDI/IRC and Plan International said they did not have the funds to carry out urgently-needed relief work and have appealed to the international community for help.

        David MacDonald, Oxfam Indonesia's country programme manager, said: "The scale of this disaster is much greater than first thought. Donors responded swiftly in the initial stages but now we need them to re-evaluate their commitments to reflect ongoing urgent needs for the basics such as shelter, water and sanitation."

        The earthquake which struck the central Indonesian island of Java almost three weeks ago killed 5,736 people and injured 78,206, according to latest Indonesian government figures.

        It has been estimated that up to 1.5 million people could be left homeless - more than triple the number left homeless after the Asian tsunami hit the Indonesian province of Aceh.

        Islamic Relief country director Seifeldin A. Nimir said: "Humanitarian aid agencies on the ground are very much committed to helping the survivors of the earthquake.

        "Without similar commitment from the donors we can't provide necessary and adequate needs of this community. This is a tragedy that needs everyone's attention and action."

        The UN launched an appeal for 103 million dollars (£71 million) for a six-month emergency relief and recovery plan on June 1, but so far just over 21 million dollars (£14.5 million) has been pledged.

        The six non-governmental agencies are working together with partners national and international NGOs, the UN, the Indonesian government and local communities to provide emergency relief including the provision of shelter, water, sanitation and healthcare.

        Quake relief hit by lack of funds


        • #19

          An Indonesian rescue team looks at Mount Merapi as it erupts with huge clouds of gas Friday June 16, 2006 in Bebeng village outside Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

          MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia - Two men were found dead Friday in the emergency bunker where they had sought shelter from Indonesia's erupting Mount Merapi, one in a bathtub where he had tried to escape the heat.

          The men were helping evacuate a village when a burst of volcanic activity forced them to seek shelter in the bunker.

          But the bunker, one of several dotting Merapi's slopes, was designed to provide temporary protection from hot clouds, not from sustained exposure to large amounts of burning volcanic debris.

          Soldiers in fire-retardant clothing dug through 6 feet of red-hot debris to reach the men, said Widi Sutikno, head of volcano relief operations.

          "The bodies were burned because of the hot temperatures in the bunker," Sutikno said.

          One of the bodies was found on the floor, while the second was immersed in a bath. "He was trying to cool down," Sutikno said.

          Scientists had thought that the 9,700-foot Merapi was calming down after weeks of activity, but violent eruptions Wednesday led to the re-evacuation of thousands of villagers.

          "It was the most terrifying cloud I have ever seen in my life," villager Basirun said of Wednesday's activity.

          Ash covered one village 4 1/2 miles west of the crater with a gray blanket an inch thick, and soot rained down after dusk across many districts, officials said.

          Merapi continued to spew scorching gas clouds and rock fragments early Friday, said Triyani of the volcanology office.

          Scientist Antonius Ratdomopurbo attributed the resurgence in activity to the collapse of a section of volcano's lava dome, which has been growing in recent weeks as lava emerges from its core.....

          2 men die in bunker at Indonesian volcano


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