Headlines

Merapi's volcanic eruption
death toll reach 28

Rescuers scoured the slopes of Indonesia's most volatile volcano Mount Merapi Wednesday after it was rocked by an eruption that spewed clouds of searing ash, killing at least 28 people, including a journalist.

Yogyakarta-based Dr. Sardjito Hospital reported that it had recorded 28 deaths at the hospital, but only two bodies had been identified.

One body belongs to Yuniawan Nugroho, an editor with the vivanews.com news portal, who was killed while conducting reportage on Tuesday night. The other belongs to an Indonesian Red Cross worker.

Merapi's Tuesday blast eased pressure that had been building up behind a lava dome perched on the volcano's crater, but experts said the worst may not be over. The lava dome could unleash deadly gases and debris if it collapses.

"It's a little calmer today," said Surono, the chief of The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG). "No hot clouds, no rumbling. But a lot of energy is pent up back there. There's no telling what's next."

Mount Merapi, which translates as "Fire Mountain," has erupted many times over the last 200 years, often with deadly results. In 1994, 60 people were killed, while in 1930, more than a dozen villages were incinerated, leaving up to 1,300 dead.

Still, as with other volcanoes in Indonesia, many people call its fertile slopes home. More than 11,000 live near Merapi.

Though thousands streamed into makeshift emergency shelters after Tuesday's powerful eruption, many started returning Wednesday saying they had to tend to their crops and protect their homes.

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