5 Nov 2010

Indonesia’s volcano death toll doubles

The death toll from the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi has doubled overnight to almost 100 after the volcano erupted again.

Death toll doubles in Indonesia Mount Merapi eruption (Reuters).

Another 54 people died in the latest eruption, which covered the surrounding area in ash.

Nearly 100 people have now died and 185 have been injured by the blasting volcano. More than 75,000 people have also been evacuated from the area near Mount Merapi, on the outskirts of Yogyakarta city in central Java.

The volcano began erupting last week, spewing clouds of ash and gas. The air in the city is now so thick with ash motorists drive with their headlights on.

A forensic doctor from Yogyakarta’s police told Metro TV that 54 badly burned bodies were brought to the Sardjito hospital on Friday.

“It is possible the death toll will rise as we search for victims,” he said.

An Indonesian vulcanologist, Surano, warned that the volcano was behaving erratically.

“It’s much worse than in the past. We cannot predict its behaviour,” he said. Mount Merapi, which translates as “Fire Mountain”, has erupted many times over the last 200 years, often with deadly results. In 1930, more than a dozen villages were hit, leaving up to 1,300 dead.

Indonesia is also struggling with the aftermath of a tsunami in the Mentawai islands off Sumatra last week which killed 431 people. The “double disaster” of the tsunami and volcano hit Indonesia simultaneously, 800 miles apart.