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Three more die in volcano eruption

Towering clouds of hot ash sprayed from the mouth of an Indonesian volcano yesterday, just a day after an explosive eruption killed three people and sent villagers fleeing to safety.

At least 44 people have already died since Mount Merapi started erupting on October 26, most of the casualties were on the first day or in the chaotic evacuations.

Three died in the powerful blast on Wednesday, Eka Saputra, who works at the National Disaster Management Agency, confirmed.

And scientists said they fear the worst might yet be to come.

“It looks like we may be entering an even worse stage,” said Surono, a state volcanologist, who had earlier said the eruptions appeared to be easing pressure behind the magma dome lodged in the Mount Merapi's crater.

“We have no idea what's happening now,” he said.

The volcano, one of the world's most active, has erupted many times in the last century, often with deadly results.

In 1994, 60 people were killed, while in 1930, more than a dozen villages were torched, leaving up to 1,300 people dead.

More than 70,000 people are packed into crowded government camps away from the volcano, and they may have to stay there for weeks, or possibly months.

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