President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked people living near the foot of Mt. Merapi to stay at refugee camps and refrain from returning homes as the government has expanded the danger zone to a radius of 15 kilometers from the volcano’s crater.
The president has also ordered security and local government officials in Yogyakarta and Central Java to evacuate people who insist on staying in the danger zone by use of force.
Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Agung Laksono said Thursday the president issued the order during a limited Cabinet meeting earlier in the day.
“We hope the people to follow the government’s call for the sake of their won safety. For those who return to their homes we appeal to them to abandon their village, or else we will force them to do so. The president said in his message there should be no more lives claimed,” Agung said.
Vice President Boediono, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa and State Secretary Sudi Silalahi attended the Cabinet meeting.
The president instructed the military and police to step up security at the danger zone to make sure everyone was safe.
Agung said the president originally wanted the people to voluntarily seek refuge.
He added that the government would extend the disaster emergency response if the volcano showed no signs of calm on Monday.