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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora