Indonesia still hard-pressed to cope with volcanic eruptions and tsunami
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The misfortune of Indonesian communities affected by recent natural disasters and slow rescue efforts continues.
In Central Java, Mount Merapi has erupted again, forcing the authorities to cancel all international flights to Jakarta and Solo. More than 50,000 people who had been evacuated from cities and towns near the volcano are still in makeshift accommodations without drinking water, first necessities and blankets, facing the prospect of heavy rains.
Falling 600 Celsius hot gas and ash have wiped out crops and cattle around Merapi. At present, the authorities have no specific plan to support the population, which could end up having to leave refugee camps.
According to Surono, the chief volcanologist in Yogyakarta, Mount Merapi could remain active for weeks or even months, with greater intensity than now.
On the Mentawai Islands, bad weather is hampering relief work for the survivors of the 26 October tsunami. The death toll from that blow now stands at least 451 people, with thousands more displaced.
“The weather is making it difficult, almost impossible, for small rescue boats to reach the various islands,” said Fr Andreas, parish priest at Holy Mary Assumpta in Sikakap, the only Catholic Church on the Mentawai.
Despite his limited means, the Catholic priest has given refuge to more than 1,200 displaced people from various areas affected by the tsunami, including many children and teenagers left without parents.
“We have about 180 minors from the islands who are without parents,” he said. “We are trying to provide them with accommodation and schooling.”