Thursday, April 20, 2006

Indonesians ignore evacuation call

Villagers living near a rumbling and swelling Indonesian volcano have ignored calls to evacuate after local officials were told to prepare for the worst. Authorities have placed Mount Merapi, which overlooks the ancient city of Yogyakarta, on Orange Code, the second highest alert level, amid fears of an eruption."Up until now, the intensity of volcanic tremors is still high and the crater wall is swelling, signaling internal pressure and accumulation of magma inside Mount Merapi," said Subandriyo, chief of Mount Merapi Observation Unit at the state-run Centre for Volcano Research and Technology Development.

Local authorities and governments around Merapi have been advised to take all precautionary actions to mitigatedisaster scenarios from possible volcanic eruption.Villagers living nearest to the slopes of Merapi, however, are still ignoring calls to flee the rumbling volcano as they go about their daily chores without much concern. Subandriyo said the complacency stemmed from the fact that the volcano's swelling, a sign of imminent eruption, was not yet visible to the naked eye.

Officials said the military had supplied more than 200 trucks and buses to evacuate villagers living on the slopes of Merapi near Yogyakarta, 460km west of the capital, Jakarta. Merapi's last major eruption was in 1994 when more than 60 people were killed. One of its most destructive eruptions was in 1930, when 1 300 people died. Indonesia sits astride the geologically active Pacific "Ring of Fire" and has more than 100 active volcanoes.

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