Monday 22 January 2018

Volcano leaves trail of death

One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes is spewing out clouds of ash and jets of searing gas in an eruption that has killed at least 25 people and injured 14.

Mount Merapi, on the outskirts of the city of Yogyakarta on Java island, erupted today, just as a tsunami pounded remote islands in western Indonesia, killing 113 people.

Authorities have been trying to evacuate more than 11,000 villagers living on the slopes of the volcano, where many houses have been destroyed, the ruins covered in white ash.

Endita Sri Andrianti, a spokeswoman for Yogyakarta's Sardjito hospital, said 25 people had been killed by deadly bursts of hot air released by the volcano late yesterday.

"We are still collecting details to identify them. Most of them were burned to death," she said, adding that 14 villagers had suffered burn injuries.

Many victims had been found in the village of Kinahredjo, close to the volcano's crater, local media reported. A cameraman at Kinahredjo said he saw burns victims being brought down from the mountain in body bags. Houses in the village had been destroyed.

"Several houses and cattle have been burned by the hot cloud from the mountain," he said.

"All the houses are blanketed in ash, completely white. The leaves have been burned off the trees."

Clouds of smoke and ash obscured the peak of the mountain, making it impossible to see if lava had begun flowing.

The country' top vulcanologist, Surono, said Merapi was now "quite calm".

"There are no signs of another imminent eruption but I cannot guarantee anything and we don't know if this is just a temporary rest," Surono said.

In a 1994 eruption after the volcano's lava dome collapsed, 70 people were killed. The volcano killed 1,300 people in 1930.


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