11/08/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Central Java: hundreds of thousands of people still fleeing Mount Merapi

by Mathias Hariyadi
In Magelang Regency, eight sub-districts are blacked out by continuous ash fall. Yogyakarta, which is closest to the volcano, is the most affected. The lava flow has now reached nearby rivers. Experts forecast new, more powerful eruptions.

The situation for many cities and villages on the island of Java affected by Mount Merapi’s eruption is getting worse. So far, over 300,000 people have fled their homes, about 130 have lost their lives from burns, and thick ash clouds after the first eruption took place on 26 October.

Around the volcano, lava continues to flow whilst ash clouds cover eight sub-districts in Magelang Regency (Central Java), depriving residents of electrical power, drinking water and food.

People in the cities of Tempel, Kadisobo, Turi, Pakem, Cangkringan, Ngemplak, Ngaglik, Depok, Kemalang, Jatinom, Gemampir, Tulung, Musuk, Cepogo and Selo have been evacuated to other cities where they are housed in public markets, government buildings, churches and local families.

In Yogyakarta, which is closest to Merapi, the lava flow has reached the Code River, forcing 13,000 families living on the riverside to flee.

In the meantime, the authorities have imposed a 20-km security zone around the high-risk area.

Flights in and out of the country have resumed after being cancelled because of 6-km ash cloud. Even President Obama’s visit to the country tomorrow was initially put in doubt.

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