World mourns over Indonesia’s
double disasters

Indonesia’s double disasters — the volcanic eruption at Merapi and the Mentawai Islands tsunami — have drawn global condolences.

An earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra late Monday, killing 272 people while Mt. Merapi erupted Tuesday afternoon, spewing hot ash, claiming about 30 lives and forcing thousands to flee.

The United States President Barack Obama, who spent four years of his childhood in Jakarta, and First Lady Michele Obama offered their condolences and said the US government was offering assistance to the Indonesian government.

“Michele and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life, injuries, and damage that have occurred as a result of the recent earthquake and tsunami in West Sumatra,” the US president said in a statement issued by the US Embassy in Jakarta on Wednesday. “As a friend of Indonesia, the United States stands ready to help in any way. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with the Indonesian people and all those affected by this tragedy.”

The Philippines also said it was ready to provide Indonesia with assistance.

“The [Philippines] Embassy … stands ready to provide assistance, if needed,” the Philippines Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement, adding all Filipinos in Indonesia were safe as most of them lived in Jakarta and other big cities on Java Island.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, who is in Hanoi for the 17th ASEAN Summit, has also directed his department to prepare for a possible humanitarian team to assist in rescue and rehabilitation efforts in Indonesia, it said.

China Foreign Affairs Minister Yang Jiechi said: “I wish to extend... my solicitude and condolences to the people affected by the disaster.”

In the Vatican, Pope Benedict XXI appealed to the international community to quickly provide disaster relief following the earthquake and killer tsunami in Indonesia, as well as deadly flooding in the West African nation of Benin, AP reported.

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