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New eruptions in Indonesia

New eruptions in Indonesia

The situation around Mount Merapi remains grave and experts fear the eruptions could continue for at least two months.

While children and their families are still accommodated in camps, new eruptions with three times greater force than last week have created panic and many people have moved farther from their present shelters. Heavy rains yesterday exacerbated the situation and made living conditions miserable. The danger zone has extended to 15kms around the volcano and people are fleeing towards Yogyakarta city 30 km away. SOS Children’s Villages has already ten camps/posts in the city; co-workers trying to make arrangements to accommodate more children in the city camps.

SOS Children’s Villages is also about to send the teams of trained co-workers from Lembang and Semarang for trauma healing of the children. Some of the families enrolled on our SOS Family Strengthening Programme who had taken shelter in SOS accomodation last week, have left the shelters and fled in panic. Many of them used to visit their houses during the daytime to feed their livestock, while their children remained in safety and they returned in the evening. The situation around Mount Merapi remains grave and experts fear the eruptions could continue for at least two months. All major air operators have already halted flights to Yogyakarta city.

Below is a letter written by an FSP co-worker who sketched the scene in the camps three days ago:

Good morning Friends,

At 00.40hrs a strong and large eruption boomed out. The earthquake could be felt within the radius of 20 kms. All people who were already evacuated at Indonesia earthquake dustUmbulharjo Camp, Turi (15kms from Mount Merapi) were asked to leave the areas as soon as possible and flee towards Yogyakarta Town.  The distance between Merapi Mountain top and Yogyakarta is around 30kms. This time the blast was very high and it was estimated to be more than 3-5kms above the mountain top.  Sands, gravels, hot water as well ash fell over Yogya town leaving around 5cms thick of those particles on the ground. People fled to safety to Yogya Town in many ways possible for them. Panicked people sped off in cars or trucks or even ambulances.  There were so many traffic accidents all over Kaliurang Road caused by commotion and by the condition of the grounds which were filled with 5cm of sands and water.

Volunteers from SOS Yogya led the SOS assisted families to the North Area of the Yogya Palace located in the centre of Yogya Town. Other volunteers also led lots of people to flee to the SOS Secretariat at Trimargo Kulon, which has also been filled with sands and ash. All essential items such as vegetables, fruits, mineral water, and clothes were brought inside the secretariat, which was already loaded with other relief items.

SOS partners from TAGANA (youth volunteers) who have helped leading the evacuees kept doing their works to help many people to move to safer places in Yogya Town such as Mandalan Krida (located near SOS Timoho Dormitory), North City Hall, South City Hall, etc. All evacuees tried to flee to the areas near Yogyakarta Palace to find better shelters and safety there.

At 02.30am I asked my friends, the volunteers from SOS Children's Villages, to hold the relief in the forms of logistic, masks etc until 08.00 am to give us a chance to see the situation and condition first. We really had to be careful with the stocks of our logistic relieves for the evacuees since we don’t know when the eruptions of Mount Merapi will end. At first I thought that emergency alert would only last for 7 days from the initial eruption in October 26th, but until now the eruptions continue. Considering that, I extend the emergency alert until 2 weeks after the initial eruption.

Evacuees from Umbulharjo Camp and Turi Camp (two SOS Children Centres) were divided in several locations now. Children followed their own parents. Bagong SOS Children Centre in Magelang should also be emptied and the evacuees fled to safer place around Borobudur area. Argasiwi Children Centre in Boyolali was also emptied and evacuees fled to three villages located nearer to Mount Merbabu. Evacuees from Tunas Bangsa SOS Children Centre in Tempel Sleman fled to Jogja Town. Evacuees from Panah SOS Children Centre in Klaten were in alert against the searing red lava which oozing down the slopes around Gendol River directly to Klaten.

Ten SOS Children Centres in Yogya Town were covered with sands and volcanic ash from Mount Merapi, although the locations of those ten Children Centers are around 30 km from Merapi Mountain top.

That is the report of the most recent situation, until 05.35 this morning. Ash rains keeps falling on Yogya Town while this report is being written.

Warm regards,
Yogyakarta, Central Java
November 02, 2010