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Fears for Missing Children in Indonesia Volcano Chaos

Selasa, 9 November 2010

YOGYAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - Rescuers in Indonesia voiced fears Tuesday for missing children lost in the chaos of a mass exodus after a series of killer eruptions from the nation’s most dangerous volcano. About 280,000 people are living in cramped temporary shelters after being ordered to evacuate from a 20-kilometre “danger zone” around Mount Merapi, which has been spewing ash and heat clouds since late October.

“We’re concerned about children who are yet to be united with their parents,” said Makbul Mubarak, a coordinator for volunteers who are trying to reunite separated families.

He said Friday’s powerful eruption, the biggest since the 1870s, had caused many residents to flee the area on the island of Java in panic, leaving at least 1,000 people desperately hunting for their loved ones.

A total of 151 people have lost their lives since Mount Merapi began erupting again on October 26, with bodies being pulled from the sludge that incinerated villages on Friday. Government volcanologist Surono said the volcano, whose name means “Mountain of Fire,” was still belching heat clouds on Tuesday but not as intensely as on previous days.

“The intensity of the eruption has decreased since yesterday but the volcano’s activity is still high, its status is still alert,” he said. Disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho denied rumours that large numbers of people were fleeing Central Java’s historic provincial capital Yogyakarta, which lies 26 kilometres south of the volcano.

“We haven’t seen a large number of people fleeing the city of Yogyakarta so far,” he said. The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines between the Pacific and Indian oceans.
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