Sunday 28 May 2017

Indonesia death toll passes 300

Relatives pray in the grave for the victims of Mount Merapi eruption during a mass burial in Indonesia (AP)
Relatives pray in the grave for the victims of Mount Merapi eruption during a mass burial in Indonesia (AP)
Indonesian soldiers carry the coffin bearing a victim of Mount Merapi eruption during a mass burial in Indonesia (AP)
A rescuer stands at a village hit by pyroclastic flows from the eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia (AP)

The death toll from a tsunami and a volcano has risen to more than 300 as more victims of Indonesia's double disasters were found.

Meanwhile, an official said a warning system installed after the deadly ocean wave in 2004 had broken from a lack of maintenance.

Hundreds were still missing after Monday's tsunami struck the remote Mentawi islands off western Sumatra, where officials were only beginning to chart the scope of the devastation.

At least 311 people died as the huge wave, triggered by an undersea earthquake, washed away wooden and bamboo homes, displacing more than 20,000 people.

About 800 miles to the east in central Java, the Mount Merapi volcano was mostly quiet but still a threat after Tuesday's eruption that sent searing ash clouds into the air, killing at least 33 people and injuring 17. Among the dead was a revered elder who had refused to leave his ceremonial post as caretaker of the mountain's spirits.

Villagers later held a mass burial for some of the victims of the volcano eruption.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono rushed home from a state visit to Vietnam to deal with the catastrophes, which struck within 24 hours along different points of the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a series of fault lines prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

The first cargo plane loaded with tents, medicine, food and clothes landed yon Wednesday in the tsunami-hit area, said disaster official Ade Edward.

Huge swathes of land were underwater and homes were torn apart by the 10ft wave that hit Pagai Utara island in the Indian Ocean south of Sumatra.

Hundreds of homes were washed away in about 20 villages, displacing more than 20,000 people, Mr Edward said. Many were seeking shelter in makeshift emergency camps or with family and friends.

Press Association

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