Indonesian volcano triggers panic

Villagers sheltering in relief camps are being moved further away as volcano on Java island spews ash.

     Villagers are fleeing the latest eruption, but there is a shortage of temporary housing to take them [AFP]

    Indonesia's Mount Merapi has erupted again, causing panic in relief camps at the foot of the volcano.

    Thirty-eight people have been killed since the volcano began erupting last Tuesday, but there were no deaths reported in the eruption on Monday, Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reported.

    Almost all villagers living along Mount Merapi's rumbling slopes have been evacuated, some forcibly by troops, though many have insisted on returning to their homes.

    In light of the latest eruption, authorities are now relocating refugee camps judged to be too close to the volcano's peak. Some of the camps are just 10km below the summit.

    "They're moving them down, just to be on the safe side," our correspondent said.

    Cities at the foot of the volatile volcano have been covered in clouds of ash, prompting fears that this eruption could be just as fatal as the previous explosions.

    The latest eruption has so far reached heights of 5km, less than the high from last week of 7.5km.

    Shortage of shelters

    The eruption comes as the temporary shelters on the slopes of Mount Merapi are already strained for resources.

    Universities located near the volcano have been transformed into ad-hoc evacuation barracks to help house some of the villagers who have fled their homes.

    The government has provided 99 shelters, according to the National Disaster and Mitigation agency, but it is not enough for the more than 65,000 evacuees.

    Food is provided for the evacuees but many say that better sanitation and more supplies are needed, such as baby food.

    "I went to two shelters provided by the government. They were full, so I came and stayed here," Maryoto, a volcano evacuee, told the Reuters news agency.

    "It is a very difficult situation for us. I wish the government would pay more attention to us. Provide a proper shelter and food for us," he said.

    Surono, Indonesia's volcanology chief, said Merapi will continue to erupt for the coming days, which should release the accumulated materials and lead to a calmer phase.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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