Friday, June 23, 2006

Mount Merapi's eruption claims at least two lives!

Two men were found burned to death on Friday under the fiery ash from Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano, which continued to spew rock fragments and scorching gas.

An Indonesian rescue team carries the bodies of two men found dead in an underground volcano bunker.

The two men, who had helped people evacuate a nearby village, were found in an underground steel emergency shelter, officials said.

One man had tried to escape the heat by taking refuge in a bathtub.

The bunker was later covered with up to two metres of debris with temperatures as high as 300 C, officials said.

"The bodies were burned because of the hot temperatures in the bunker," said Widi Sutikno, head of volcano relief operations in the area.

Weeks of violent eruptions

The volcano has been disrupting life in the area during weeks of violent activity. Scientists had thought it was calming down, but there were more eruptions on Wednesday.

One woman who'd been forced out of her home and was living in a makeshift camp said she still does not feel safe.

"I'm so afraid of the smoke and the hot gas that is near the camp," she said.

Merapi is on Java Island about 400 kilometres southeast of Jakarta. It last erupted in 1994, sending out a searing cloud of gas that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when it erupted in 1930.

Indonesia has the world's highest density of volcanoes, with 500 in a localized "ring of fire" along the 5,000-kilometre archipelago nation. Of these, 128 are active.

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