Indonesia's volcano toll climbs to 135, evacuation underway

08:42, November 08, 2010      

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A rescuer tries to determine the direction of wind in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 7, 2010. Mount Merapi, first started erupting on Oct. 26, has so far killed more than 120 people. (Xinhua/Jin Liangkuai)

Rescuers raced to evacuate residence in dangerous zone on Sunday as the volcano in Central Java keeps unleasing ash that has killed at least 135 people, seriously injured 411 others and forced hundreds of thousands people taking shelters, Indonesian officials said.

Mount. Merapi of 2,968 meters high has erupted since Oct. 26, and the latest series eruption has rained Central Java, including the city of Yogyakarta, with ash, forcing disclosure of the main airport in the city. The ash spread by up to 45 kilometers, according to the local Volcanology Agency.

The rescuers must temporarily stop searching fatality or survivors being trapped in the dangerous zone and carrying out evacuation when the hot ash came down to the slope, Coordinator of the rescuers named only Marsono said. "We must stay away from the mount when it rumbled and spread hot ash," he told Xinhua.

Recuers found more bodies on Sunday and still could not reach some houses as it was still dangerous, said Marsono.

Many residence living in risky zone of 20 kms refused to leave their homes by the reason to look after their belonging and considered that the ash still far from them, and many others evacuees returned to the zone to take care of their cattles, said Marsono. "Many of them still stay in the dangerous zone, we must persuade them to leave, and even force them to exit from the zone. Many others returned to their homes too," he said. Although Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that the government would purchase all their cattle, most of the villagers in the area live from milking cow.

National Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency official in Jakarta told Xinhua by phone that the fatality reached 135 people with 411 others having serious injury.

There were 289,612 people taking shelter by Sunday, the agency said. The agency has said that there are 1.3 million people living in the risky zone of 20 km from the mount.

Mount Merapi is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The Southeast Asian country lies in a quake-prone zone called the Pacific Ring of Fire, and now has 129 active volcanoes.

The previous eruption of Mount Merapi in 2006 killed two people. A 1994 eruption claimed 60 people's lives. A major eruption in 1930 killed more than 1,000 people's lives.
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