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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid