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Huge volcanic blast spurs more Indonesians to flee

 An Indonesian man watches as Mount Merapi erupts in Hargobinangun, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's most dangerous volcano...
 People watch Mount Merapi spewing volcanic materials in Deles, Central Java, Indonesia, early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's most dangerous vol...
 In this late Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 photo, lava glows at the crater of Mount Merapi as seen from Deles, Central Java, Indonesia. Indonesia's most dang...
 A villager reacts as she flees her home following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.  I...
 Volunteers evacuate a sick man from his house following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 20...
 Villagers flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, WedNesday, Nov. 3, 2010.  Indonesia is e...
 An Indonesian man watches as Mount Merapi erupts in Kepuharjo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's most dangerous volcano is ...
 Villagers board a truck as they evacuate their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov...
 Indonesian soldiers evacuate villagers from their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, ...
 Villagers board a truck as they evacuate their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov...
 Volunteers help a sick elderly man to board a truck during an evacuation following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indon...
 Residents walk to a temporary shelter as they flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wedn...
 Indonesian soldiers evacuate villagers from their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, WedNesday, ...
 Villagers flee their homes on motorcycles following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Klaten, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.  Indonesia's dead...
 Villagers flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, WedNesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's dea...
 Villagers sit at a temporary shelter as they flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wedne...
 Villagers flee their homes on a truck following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Klaten, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.  Indonesia's deadly v...
 Indonesian soldiers evacuate villagers from their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, ...

Indonesia Disasters

An Indonesian man watches as Mount Merapi erupts in Hargobinangun, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's most dangerous volcano...

Indonesia Disasters

People watch Mount Merapi spewing volcanic materials in Deles, Central Java, Indonesia, early Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's most dangerous vol...

Indonesia Disasters

In this late Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 photo, lava glows at the crater of Mount Merapi as seen from Deles, Central Java, Indonesia. Indonesia's most dang...

Indonesia Disasters

A villager reacts as she flees her home following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. I...

Indonesia Disasters

Volunteers evacuate a sick man from his house following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 20...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, WedNesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia is e...

APTOPIX Indonesia Disasters

An Indonesian man watches as Mount Merapi erupts in Kepuharjo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's most dangerous volcano is ...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers board a truck as they evacuate their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov...

Indonesia Disasters

Indonesian soldiers evacuate villagers from their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, ...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers board a truck as they evacuate their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov...

Indonesia Disasters

Volunteers help a sick elderly man to board a truck during an evacuation following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indon...

Indonesia Disasters

Residents walk to a temporary shelter as they flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wedn...

Indonesia Disasters

Indonesian soldiers evacuate villagers from their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, WedNesday, ...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers flee their homes on motorcycles following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Klaten, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's dead...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, WedNesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's dea...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers sit at a temporary shelter as they flee their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wedne...

Indonesia Disasters

Villagers flee their homes on a truck following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Klaten, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's deadly v...

Indonesia Disasters

Indonesian soldiers evacuate villagers from their homes following another eruption of Mount Merapi in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, ...

A deadly Indonesian volcano spewing lava and smoke for more than a week erupted Wednesday with its biggest blast yet, shooting searing ash miles into the air as soldiers hastily evacuated villages and emergency shelters.
Women screamed and children cried as they were loaded into trucks while rocks and debris rained from the sky. Several abandoned homes were set ablaze and the carcasses of incinerated cattle littered the scorched slopes.
No new casualties were reported immediately after the booming explosion, which lasted more than an hour.
"This is an extraordinary eruption, triple from the first" on Oct. 26, said Surono, a state volcanologist.
More than 70,000 villagers have been evacuated from the 9,700-foot (3,000-meter) Mount Merapi's once-fertile slopes since it began erupting just over a week ago, killing 38 people and injuring dozens, most with severe burns.
Almost all have packed into crowded camps well away from the base.
Djarot Nugroho, the head of Central Java's disaster management agency, said funding for the refugees would run out in five days unless a national disaster was declared.
There have been more than a dozen strong blasts in recent days _ including one Wednesday morning _ prompting some scientists earlier to say pressure building up behind a magma dome in the crater was easing.
By nightfall, however, new alarms had been raised.
The danger zone was widened from 10 kilometers (six miles) from the glowing crater to 15 (9) because of the heightened threat. Soldiers and police blocked all roads leading up the mountain, shooing away television crews and reporters.
"I (didn't) think of anything else except to save my wife and son. We left my house and everything," said Tentrem Wahono, 50, who lives in Kaliurang village, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the peak.
He and his family fled on a motorbike, "racing with the explosive sounds as the searing ash chased us from behind."
The last eruption, which occurred during a heavy downpour, raised Merapi's status to "crisis" condition, said Andi Arief, a special staff at the presidential office dealing with disaster and social assistance.
Merapi, one of the world's most active volcanoes, has erupted many times in the last century, killing more than 1,400 people.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanos because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific.
As a reminder of that, a 6.0-magnitude quake hit waters off the eastern province of Papua on Wednesday evening, rattling several villages but causing no known damage or casualties.
The volcano's initial Oct. 26 blast occurred less than 24 hours after a towering tsunami slammed into remote islands on the western end of the country, sweeping entire villages to sea and killing at least 428 people.
There, too, thousands of people were displaced, many living in government camps.
In both cases, relief operations are expected to take weeks, possibly months.
Helicopters and boats were delivering aid to tsunami survivors in the most distant Mentawai islands, more than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) west of the volcano.
The islands, popular among surfers, lie almost directly over the fault that spawned the 2004 Indian Ocean monster quake and wave.
There has been talk in recent days about relocating villagers away from vulnerable coastlines.
"I'm all for it," said Regen, who lives on Pagai Utara island and goes by one name. "We're all terrified now, especially at night, and wouldn't mind moving further inland."
___
Associated Press writers Irwan Firdaus, Ali Kotarumalos and Niniek Karmini contributed to this report from Jakarta.


Updated : 2020-11-30 23:11 GMT+08:00