News / Asia

    Indonesia's Most Active Volcano Stirs Fear and Anger

    Indonesia's Mount Merapi looms over the surrounding villages. Even on a clear day the smoke that shoots from its summit is intimidating, 01 Nov. 2010.
    Indonesia's Mount Merapi looms over the surrounding villages. Even on a clear day the smoke that shoots from its summit is intimidating, 01 Nov. 2010.

    The sounds of children playing in emergency shelters at the base of Indonesia's Mount Merapi are a welcome break from the explosions heard hours earlier.  

    Earlier in the day, panic ensued after a series of eruptions rained ash and debris down on villages as far as six kilometers from the volcano's crater. The clouds of hot gas billowed from Merapi for nearly three hours, stirring fears that the volcano's wrath is far from finished.

    One week after the volcano first came to life, more than 38 people have been killed and 70,000 confined to emergency shelters.  Morale in the camps is low, and many refugees say they pine for home.

    Male evacuees make the best of their circumstances, but many say they're bored at the shelters already
    Male evacuees make the best of their circumstances, but many say they're bored at the shelters already

    All are aware of the dangers of returning.  But many go back to check on their homes and cattle during the day, at times when the volcano is most calm. The head of the mobile brigade near the Umbulharjo evacuation center, Dodik Slamet, is charged with seeing who goes in and out of the evacuation checkpoint.  His job is to ensure people are safe, he says, but he also cannot prevent them from protecting their livelihoods.

    There are still many cattle there and the cattle are peoples' only treasure, says Dodik Slamet.  He cannot prohibit people from returning to their homes, he says, because if they do not go back, the cattle will die.

    Trucks and motorbikes with grass strapped to the back are the only vehicles that ply the dust-covered road past Umbulharjo.  Refugees there moved to a rescue shelter further down the volcano after an eruption Saturday caused concern that debris might reach the safety zone.

    More than 2,000 refugees are staying nearby, at the Kepuharjo evacuation shelter.  Rescue workers say supplies are adequate, but they are having trouble with sanitation.  Doctors worry about the spread of disease as children get colds and eye infections.

    Some of the women and children having been living here for a week.  They say they are bored, and have too much time to think about the homes they know have been destroyed.

    Ibu Parmi sits with friends at Kapuharjo evacuation shelter in Indonesia.
    Ibu Parmi sits with friends at Kapuharjo evacuation shelter in Indonesia.

    Fifty-year-old Parmi says she is glad to have her health, but she cannot stop thinking about all that she has lost.  Everything at my home is gone, she says.  Parmi thanks God she still has her family together, but says she does not know how she can go back.  She says she fears returning to a home  that is not livable.

    The eruptions could continue for weeks, say government volcanologists, since the volcano has not released all the pressure built up beneath a lava dome in its crater.  And that fact could strain the government's ability to care for all the refugees, particularly since it must also provide aid to victims of a tsunami that struck off the coast of west Sumatra just one day before Merapi erupted.

    The death toll from the tsunami stands at more than 430 dead with another 15,000 homeless.  The number missing dropped to less than 100 after many were found alive by search and rescue teams during the weekend.

    But rough weather continues to prevent aid from getting to the remote Mentawai Islands, and many in need of immediate medical care cannot be evacuated.  Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

    Mount Merapi is one of nearly 200 active volcanoes on this vast island nation.  The latest eruption is the volcano's third in two decades, but those who remember the 1994 blast that killed 60 people say this one is worse.  With searing gas continuing to speed down the mountain, they say they fear they fear what is to come.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora