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Latest Volcanic Eruption in Indonesia
« on: November 06, 2010, 02:58:38 PM »
Hospital overwhelmed by Indonesia volcano victims

By SARAH DiLORENZO, Associated Press

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – The tiny hospital at the foot of Indonesia's most volatile volcano is struggling to cope with victims brought in after the mountain's most powerful eruption in a century. Some have clothes, blankets and even mattresses fused to their skin.

With just a few beds in the only burn unit in town, doctors have been forced to turn people away.

A surge of searing gas raced down the sides of Mount Merapi at highway speeds Friday, setting houses and trees ablaze and blackening the bodies of those caught in its path.

The nightmarish eruption raised the number of people killed by Merapi since Oct. 26 to 118 and sent tens of thousands more into already crowded emergency shelters in the shadow of the volcano.

It continued to rumble and groan Saturday, spitting gray clouds of ash and gas high into the air.

"It's scary. ... The eruption just keeps going on," said Wajiman, 58, who was sitting in a shelter near a girl reading a newspaper headlined "Merapi isn't finished yet."

The worst hit village of Bronggang lay nine miles (15 kilometers) from the fiery crater, just on the perimeter of the government-delineated "danger zone." Crumpled roofs, charred carcasses of cattle and broken chairs — all layered in white ash and soot — dotted the smoldering landscape.

The zone has since been expanded to a ring 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the peak, bringing it to the edge of the ancient royal capital of Yogyakarta, which has been put on its highest alert. Poor visibility from ash showers snarled traffic and forced closed the city's airport for a second day Saturday.

Click image to see photos of the disaster in Indonesia


AP Photo/Trisnadi
The biggest threat is the Code River, which flows from the 9,700-foot (3,000-meter) mountain into the heart of the city of 400,000 and could act as conduit for deadly volcanic mudflows that can race at speeds of 60 mph (100 kph).

Already, it is clogged with cold lava, mud, rocks and other debris.

Sri Sucirathasri said her family had stayed in their Bronggang home Thursday night because they hadn't been told to leave.

They awoke in the dark as the mountain let out thunderous claps and tried desperately to outrun the flows on a motorbike. Her mother, father and 12-year-old sister, Prisca, left first, but with gray ash blocking out any light, they mistakenly drove into — rather than away from — the volcano's dangerous discharge.

The 18-year-old Sri went looking for them when she heard her mother's screams, leaving at home an older sister, who died when the house was engulfed in flames.

"It was a safe place. There were no signs to evacuate," said Sri, a vacant gaze fixed on Prisca, whose neck and face were burned a shiny ebony, her features nearly melted away.

Their mother was still missing. Their father, whose feet and ankles were burned, was being treated in another ward.

"I don't know what to say," she whispered when asked if she blamed officials for not warning the family. "Angry at who? I'm just sad. And very sick."

Merapi's latest round of eruptions began Oct. 26, followed by more than a dozen other powerful blasts and thousands of tremors.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_indonesia_disasters


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