Indonesia's Mt. Merapi shelters overflow with restless evacuees, flights canceled
One week after Indonesia's Mount Merapi unleashed its major blast, evacuation centers have reached capacity. Ongoing eruptions have sent more people fleeing and forced cancellation of some international flights.
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Scientists say the force of that blast helped relieve built-up pressure inside the volcano’s crater. But they also say Merapi could continue to belch hot gas and ash for weeks, stretching refugees' patience and the government’s ability to provide aid.Skip to next paragraph
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The plumes of smoke and ash have also forced at least two airlines to cancel flights. The Associated Press reported that Malaysian budget airline AirAsia and Singapore's SilkAir suspended several international flights to Yogyakarta and Solo, both within 20 miles of the crater and popular hopping points to the famed 9th century Borobudur temples.
Both airlines reported they expected to resume operations soon.
Meanwhile, another set of rescue workers complain that it has taken days for aid to reach the remote Mentawai Islands, where a tsunami sparked by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake slammed into the sparsely populated island chain last Monday, killing more than 430 people and leaving 15,000 homeless.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has assured the National Disaster Management Agency that he would provide the money and equipment to help the country recover from dual natural disasters that hit the country within 24 hours of each other.
Some politicians are discussing the idea of permanently relocating people who live in proven danger zones, such as coastal areas. But the idea has gained little traction, particularly since it was tried before on Mount Merapi.
After Merapi’s eruption last Monday, scientists noted an uptick in volcanic activity in several locations around the country. Mount Anak Krakatau located between the islands of Java and Sumatra has released nearly 100 short blasts each day over the past week, and officials continue to monitor another volcano in north Sumatra that came to life in August after lying dormant for 400 years.