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48 killed as Indonesian volcano erupts again

Friday November 05, 2010 10:20:58 AM, DPA

Jakarta: At least 48 people were killed and 66 seriously injured Friday by clouds of searing ash and lava from the latest eruptions of Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano, hospital staff said.

In the nearby city of Yogyakarta, Sardjito General Hospital spokesman Trisno Heru Nugroho said at least 48 bodies and 66 injured people had been brought in from the disaster zone.

The latest casualties brought to 92 the number of people to have been killed in Merapi's series of eruptions since Oct 26.

Furqon Setiawan, an official at the National Disaster Management Agency, said at least 160 had been injured since Thursday.

The number of people displaced by the eruptions climbed from more than 70,000 to around 100,000.

Metro TV showed residents and rescue workers scrambling to escape the volcanic ash. Soldiers, police and other rescue workers were seen removing bodies and the injured from villages within Merapi's danger zone.

Most of the dead were found in the Cangkringan area in Sleman district, about 15 km from Merapi's peak, officials said, adding that many of the injured suffered serious burns.

Deputy police chief in Yogyakarta, Senior Commissioner Tjiptono, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said that burned bodies had been found in a village near Gendol river in Sleman district.

"The victims' bodies were charred beyond recognition," he told broadcaster TVOne.

The volcano had continuously erupted since early Thursday. The head of the Centre for Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation, Surono, described the new eruption as more powerful than the volcano's first eruption Oct 26.

"This is Merapi's worst eruption in the last 100 years," R. Sukhyar, chief geologist at the energy and mineral resources ministry, was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post.

He said the volcano was in a critical condition, with explosive outbursts sending hot clouds of ash up to 11 km down Merapi's slopes.

Vulcanologists expanded the evacuation zone around Merapi from 15 to 20 km. On Wednesday, the evacuation zone had been expanded from 10 to 15 km.

The 2,968-metre peak is about 500 km southeast of Jakarta. Its deadliest eruption on record occurred in 1930, when 1,370 people were killed. At least 66 people were killed in a 1994 eruption, and two people were killed in 2006.

Vulcanologists warned that several other volcanoes across Indonesia were showing increased activity.

Indonesia has the highest density of volcanoes in the world, with about 500 in the 5,000-km-long archipelago nation. Nearly 130 are active volcanoes and 68 are classified as dangerous.





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