Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Many flee after volcano warning

People have abandoned their homes in a bustling city of 400,000 at the foot of Indonesia's rumbling volcano, cramming onto trains, buses and rented vehicles as authorities warned Mount Merapi could erupt again at any time.

A mass burial on Sunday for many of the 141 people killed in the last two weeks served as a reminder of the mountain's devastating power.

With the closest airport closed over clouds of ash, rail traffic leaving Yogyakarta has doubled in recent days, as residents - many of them students from the city's universities - tried to get out.

"My parents have been calling ... saying 'You have to get out of there! You have to come home!'," said Linda Ervana, a 21-year-old history student who was waiting with friends at a train station.

After days of failing to get rail tickets - long queues stretch through the main hall - her group decided to rent a minibus with other classmates.

"It feels like that movie 2012," said her 22-year-old friend, Paulina Setin. "Like a disaster in a movie."

Concerns about airborne ash after Friday's massive eruption prompted many international airlines to cancel flights to the capital, Jakarta, days before US President Barack Obama's planned trip to Indonesia - his second stop in a 10-day Asian tour.

All the airlines were flying again on Monday and White House officials said Obama was still scheduled to touch down on Tuesday.

Merapi, one of the world's most active volcanoes, has erupted many times in the last century, killing more than 1,400 people. But Friday was the mountain's deadliest day since 1930, with nearly 100 lives lost.

Islam mandates that the dead be buried quickly, so authorities gave relatives three days to identify their loved ones. To speed up the process, most families chose to have their relatives interred in a mass grave, a common practice in Indonesia following a disaster.


From Belfast Telegraph