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Indonesian volcano's death toll rises to 191

10 Nov

Boys look at the eruption of Mount Merapi volcano in Manisrenggo village, in the Klaten district of Indonesia's central Java province Nov 10, 2010. Mount Merapi showed lethargic signs on Wednesday but authorities would not lower down its alert status because of its intense seismic activities, the head of the country's vulcanolology agency said. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Andry Prasetyo )

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November 10, 2010 (KATAKAMI / CNN) — The toll from recent eruptions of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano has climbed to 191 dead and 145 seriously injured, government officials said Wednesday.

Scores of others have suffered less severe injuries, said Dr. Sigit Priohutomo, of the Merapi Disaster Health Team.

Recent eruptions of Merapi started on October 26, displacing 200,000 people, relief agencies such as Plan Indonesia have estimated.

On Wednesday, volcanic ash from Merapi forced airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways to cancel flights at the Yogyakarta and Jakarta airports, airport officials said.

The threat of ash also prompted the early departure of U.S. President Barack Obama from Indonesia. Obama, who was visiting on a 10-day tour of Asia, left early for South Korea, where he is to attend the G-20 summit.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called the volcano eruptions a crisis situation. On Sunday, he and several of his ministers visited Yogyakarta to oversee relief efforts.

The president has announced that residents will receive compensation for livelihoods and animals lost to the eruptions. The government will buy endangered cows on the volcano, Yudhoyono said. Many of those who live on its slopes raise cattle and risked their lives by staying or returning to feed their cows during lulls of volcanic activity.

Ash columns from Merapi’s recent eruptions have risen as high as 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), according to the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency.

An ash cloud that hit a village near the crater was about 450 to 600 degrees Celsius (842 to 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Indonesian Volcanology Technology Development and Assessment Agency.

The 3,000-meter (9,800-foot) Merapi, in Central Java, is famously unpredictable. About 1,300 people died when it erupted in 1930.

 
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