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Indonesia Fights on Two Fronts as Tsunami, Eruption Toll Rises

Rescuers carry the body of a victim of Mount Merapi eruption in Kaliadem, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. A volcanic eruption and a tsunami killed scores of people hundreds of miles apart in Indonesia, spasms from the Pacific "Ring of Fire," which spawns disasters from deep within the Earth. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Slamet Riyadi)


Indonesia (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA GLOBE / BLOOMBERG) — Rescuers searched for survivors of a tsunami in Indonesia’s remote west while aid workers headed for the site of a volcano eruption as the death toll from the two disasters hours apart rose to more than 130.

The toll from the Oct. 25 tsunami that hit the Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra reached 112 with 152 missing as of 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, Ade Edward, head of operations at the West Sumatra Regional Disaster Management Agency, said. At least 24 died in the eruption of Mount Merapi in Central Java.

“The areas are remote and communication is difficult,” Edward said by phone today. “Our officials over there are supposed to report at least every hour.”

In central Java, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Jakarta, Red Cross Indonesia workers are treating people who were burned or otherwise injured after the Mt. Merapi volcano erupted three times, spewing superheated ash into the air and killing at least 24 people.

“We need more masks, tents, and medicine to treat burn injuries,” Oka Wahid, a spokesman at Red Cross Indonesia’s Yogyakarta branch, said by phone. “We also need food because more people from villages near Merapi are coming down to evacuation point.”

There were 1,360 people from five villages heading to the evacuation center in Yogyakarta, he said.

The 7.5-magnitude temblor struck the Kepulauan Mentawai region of Indonesia, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Padang, the provincial capital of West Sumatra, and 640 kilometers from Singapore at 9:42 p.m. local time Oct. 25, the US Geological Survey said. The quake triggered a 3-meter (10- foot) tsunami that that reached 400 meters inland, the agency said yesterday.

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in the same area in October 2009 left more than 1,000 people dead in Padang, many of whom were buried in mudslides and the rubble of collapses buildings. Less than a month earlier, a magnitude-7 temblor south of Java on Sept. 2 left 82 people dead.

A tsunami generated by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off northern Sumatra in December 2004 left about 220,000 people dead or missing in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean.


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