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More flee as Merapi erupts

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Villagers ride on a truck as they leave their homes on a street covered by volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Merapi in Muntilan, Indonesia. — PHOTO: AP


WUKIRSARI (Indonesia) – INDONESIA ordered thousands more people to evacuate their villages Thursday as the country’s most active volcano erupted again, shooting deadly gas and ash into the sky.

Volcanologists said the ‘high intensity’ eruption was the strongest yet from the 2,914-metre Mount Merapi, but there were no reports of new casualties after 36 people were killed last week.

‘Today’s eruption is bigger than yesterday’s. Heat clouds and volcanic material were shot 10 km into the sky,’ a government scientist said in Yogyakarta, which lies south of the volcano.

An avalanche of heat clouds that can kill anything in their path streamed nine kilometres down the slopes of the volcano, a sacred landmark in Javanese tradition whose name translates as ‘Mountain of Fire’.

Residents of an emergency shelter in Wukirsari village of Sleman district, about 20 kilometres from the volcano’s peak, said it spat heat clouds and debris for about three hours after dawn. Scientists however said it had erupted throughout the night.

Officials said the number of people at safety shelters rose to 90,000 from 75,000 on Wednesday, when the official exclusion zone was widened from 10 to 15 kilometres around the volcano. — AFP

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Source : Straits Times

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2010 in Indonesia

 

Indonesia Unveils Theme, Logo for ASEAN Chairmanship 2011

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Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono whose country will take the presidency of ASEAN addresses the colosing ceremony of the 17th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its related meetings in Hanoi on October 30, 2010.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – “ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations” will soon echo throughout the region, during Indonesia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2011, according to the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat on its official website, Wednesday.

“The theme anticipates the successful attainment of ASEAN in Community in 2015,” said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when speaking at the closing ceremony of the recently-concluded 17th ASEAN Summit in Ha Noi, Vietnam.

Prior to the announcement of the theme, President SBY, as he is affectionately known in Indonesia, also unveiled the ASEAN Chairmanship 2011 logo. A logo design contest was opened to all Indonesian citizens from August to September and garnered almost 300 entries. Edi Jatmiko, a design student, emerged the winner.

“ASEAN must enhance its collective contribution, towards addressing various global issues. A positive contribution to the global community of nations,” he added.

Addressing Indonesia’s main plans during its Chairmanship, President SBY said that Indonesia would accelerate the implementation of agreed commitments and consensus. The host country of the ASEAN Secretariat would also seek to enhance ASEAN’s influence in the global landscape.

During his speech, President SBY recalled Indonesia’s role in chairing ASEAN in 2003, a landmark period during which the vision and concerted efforts to transform ASEAN from an association to a Community was resolved.

According to the ASEAN Charter, the Chairmanship of ASEAN shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States. In principle, 2011 would have seen Brunei Darussalam succeeding the Chairmanship from Viet Nam, and Indonesia would have taken over from Cambodia in 2013.

However, during the 16th ASEAN Summit in April in Ha Noi, the Member States reached a unanimous decision to grant Indonesia’s request for a swap of the Chairmanship with Brunei for 2011. A Member State assuming the Chairmanship shall chair the ASEAN Summit and related summits, the ASEAN Coordinating Council, the three ASEAN Community Councils, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies and senior officials, and the Committee of Permanent Representatives.

In 2013, should Indonesia assume the Chairmanship of ASEAN, it will in addition host APEC meetings. In view of this packed schedule, the country asked for the swap.

“For Indonesia, ASEAN has always been – and will remain – the cornerstone of our foreign policy,” President SBY said.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Indonesia

 

Indonesia Volcano Shoots New Blast; 21 More Rumble

Volcano Yogyakarta
Residents flee on a motorcycle as Mount Merapi releases volcanic materials into the in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. Indonesias most volatile volcano unleashed its most powerful eruption in a deadly week Monday, spewing searing clouds of gas and debris thousands of meters into the air.

MOUNT MERAPI, KOMPAS.com — Evacuees cringed and fled for cover Monday as an erupting volcano — one of 22 showing increased activity in Indonesia — let loose booming explosions of hot gas and debris, the latest blast in a deadly week. No new casualties were reported.
The new blast from Mount Merapi came as Indonesia also struggles to respond to an earthquake-generated tsunami that devastated remote islands. The twin disasters, unfolding simultaneously on opposite ends of the seismically volatile country, have killed nearly 500 people and severely tested the government’s emergency response network. In both events, the military has been called in to help.

One of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, Merapi has killed 38 people since it started erupting a week ago. Even in the crowded government camps miles (kilometers) away, people still instinctively ran for shelter at the power of Monday’s eruption, which was accompanied by several deafening explosions, said Subrandrio, an official in charge of monitoring Merapi’s activity.

About 69,000 people villagers have been evacuated from the area around its once-fertile slopes — now blanketed by gray ash — in central Java, 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Jakarta, the capital. As massive clouds spilled from the glowing cauldron and billowed into the air, sending debris and ash cascaded nearly four miles (six kilometers) down the southeastern slopes, Subrandrio said.

Local officials and witnesses initially described it as the biggest since the initial blast a week ago, but Surono, chief of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, said an explosion on Saturday was actually more powerful. Merapi has erupted many times in the last two centuries, 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.

More than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the west, meanwhile, a C-130 transport plane, six helicopters and four motorized boats were ferrying aid to the most distant corners of the Mentawai Islands, where last week’s tsunami destroyed hundreds of homes, schools, churches and mosques. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said relief efforts must be sped up, expressing dismay it took days for aid to reach the isolated islands, though he acknowledged that violent storms have previously prevented most planes, helicopters and boats from operating.
The tsunami death toll stood at 431 Monday after initially being raised to 450. The National Disaster Management Agency said on its website that the number dropped as officials double-checked reports to verify them. The number of missing was 88.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, straddles a series of fault lines and volcanoes known as the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” The fault line that caused last week’s 7.7-magnitude earthquake and killer wave that followed — and also the 2004 tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries — is the meeting point of the Eurasian and Pacific tectonic plates that have been pushing against and under each other for millions of years, causing huge stresses to build up. It runs the length of the west coast of Sumatra island.

Both earthquakes and volcanos can be related to movements in the overlapping plates that form the earth’s crust. As plates slide against or under each other, molten rock from the layer of mantle can break the surface via a volcano, or create energy released in an earthquake.

The government has raised alert levels of 21 other volcanoes to the second- and third- highest levels in the last two months because they have shown an increase in activity, said Syamsul Rizal, a state volcanologist, said monday. Many of those are already rumbling and belching out heavy black ash.

Indonesia has several volcanos smoldering at any given time, but another government volcanologist Gede Swantika said there are normally only five to 10 on the third-highest alert level, indicating an increase in seismic activity and visible changes in the crater, and none at the second-highest, signifying an eruption is possible within two weeks. He said monitors noticed more volcanos were exhibiting seismic activity starting Sept. 2.

“We can say this is quite extraordinary, about 20 at the same time,” Swantika said. “We have to keep an eye on those mountains. … But I cannot say or predict which will erupt. What we can do is monitor patterns.”

Geologist Brent McInnes said as he hadn’t seen the raw data but would find such a rash of volcanic activity significant. “If it’s true that there are over 20 volcanos demonstrating increased levels of seismic activity, then that is something we should pay attention to,” said McInnes, a professor at Australia’s Curtin University who has done extensive volcanic research in Indonesia.

He said such an increase could indicate “maybe there is a major plate restructuring going on, and that would be significant.”

Two of the closely watched volcanos — Karangetang and Ibu — are at the second-highest alert level. Karangetang erupted in August, killing four people, and both mountains shoot out ash daily, local monitors said. The two mountains lie within a few hundred miles (kilometers) of each other more than 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) northeast of Jakarta.

Anak Krakatua, a volcano known as the “Child of Krakatoa” also started shooting lava last week. Although the firebursts look spectacular, there were no immediate signs of major eruption, said Anton Tripambudi, a government seismologist.
The mountain, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Jakarta, was formed after the Krakatoa eruption of 1883, the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history that, along with a tsunami, killed at least 36,417 people.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Indonesia

 

Indonesia Issues Flight Warning as Volcano Spews Ash

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In a picture taken from Kemalang, Klaten, in central Java Mount Merapi spews hot clouds of ash on November 2, 2010. Mount Merapi volcano spewed heat clouds and ash on November 1 as officials warned another eruption is expected, though possibly not as big as one that killed 34 people last week.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia on Tuesday warned airlines to avoid certain routes over central Java as the Mount Merapi volcano belched more heat clouds of gas and ash, while six international flights were canceled.
Transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said an official warning was issued telling all airlines to “use an alternative route for safety reasons due to the volcanic ash.“

Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd. (5099.KU) said it had canceled four flights linking Kuala Lumpur to Yogyakarta and nearby Solo on Tuesday, while Silk Air canceled two flights between Singapore and Solo.

“The flights…to Yogya and Solo have been canceled only for Nov. 2. We will update if there are any further developments,“ an AirAsia spokeswoman said, referring to four flights to and from the cities.

A statement from SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines Ltd. (SINGY), said a flight from Singapore to Solo and its return leg were canceled. “Our next scheduled Singapore-Solo flight is on Thursday and we are closely monitoring the situation,“ the statement said.

Almost 40 people have been killed since the 2,914-meter Mount Merapi, the most active of the many volcanoes in Indonesia, began erupting last week. It spewed heat clouds high into the air six times after dawn on Tuesday, and volcanologists say such activity is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

“It could go on for weeks, even months,“ volcanologist Subandrio said. Indonesia straddles major tectonic fault lines and is part of a region known as the “Ring of Fire“ that circles the Pacific Ocean.

Source : AFP

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Indonesia

 

Indonesian Volcano Forces Flight Cancellations

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Lava glows from the crater of Mount Merapi as seen from Deles, Central Java, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. International airlines halted flights to airports near Indonesias most dangerous volcano Tuesday, as fiery lava lit the rumbling mountains cauldron and plumes of smoke blackened the sky.

MOUNT MERAPI, KOMPAS.com — Indonesia’s most dangerous volcano forced international airlines to cancel flights to nearby airports Tuesday, as fiery lava lit the rumbling mountain’s cauldron and plumes of smoke blackened the sky. Scientists warned that the slow eruption could continue for weeks, like a “marathon, not a sprint.”

No casualties were reported in Mount Merapi’s latest blasts, which came as Indonesia struggled to respond to an earthquake-generated tsunami that devastated a remote chain of islands last week. The two disasters in separate parts of the country have killed nearly 470 people and strained the government’s emergency response network.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanos because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific. Merapi — one of 22 active Indonesian volcanos now on alert — has killed 38 people since springing back to life just over a week ago, at times forcing the temporary closure of two nearby airports.

Officials in Yogyakarta, the gateway to the famed 9th-century Borobudur temples visited by 1 million tourists a year, and nearby Solo, have cited poor visibility and heavy ash on the runway. Both airports were running Tuesday, but Malaysia’s budget airline AirAsia and Singapore’s SilkAir temporarily suspended several international flights because of the smoldering mountain, just 20 miles (30 kilometers) away.

There have been more than 10 large eruptions at Merapi since the first big explosion on Oct. 26, including a violent burst Monday that appeared to have eased pressure inside the crater by creating a vent for magma to escape. Three much smaller eruptions followed Tuesday.

“There’s no way of knowing for sure, of course,” said Safari Dwiyono, who has observed the mountain for more than 15 years. “But based on what we’ve seen in the last few days, we’re hoping there won’t be a massive explosion. It’s looking like we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint.”

The nearly 70,000 villagers evacuated from the area around Merapi’s once-fertile slopes — now blanketed by gray ash — have been told they could be expected to stay in crowded government camps at least three more weeks.
More than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the west, meanwhile, a C-130 transport plane, six helicopters and four boats were ferrying aid to the most distant corners of the Mentawai islands, where last week’s tsunami destroyed hundreds of homes, schools, churches and mosques.

The tsunami death toll stood Monday at 431, the National Disaster Management Agency said. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said relief efforts must be sped up, expressing dismay that it took days for aid to reach the isolated islands, though he acknowledged that violent storms were largely to blame.

The fault line that spawned the killer wave — and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami — is the meeting point of the two of the Earth’s dozen major plates, which have been pushing against and under each other for millions of years, causing huge stresses to build up.

The government has raised alert levels of 21 other volcanos to the second- and third- highest levels in the last two months because they have shown an increase in activity, state volcanologists Syamsul Rizal said Monday.

That’s twice the number usually on the government “watch” list. Hundreds of flights were canceled in Europe after the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano in April.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Indonesia

 

Another Worry around Smoldering Volcano: Tigers

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Picture taken from Cangkringan village in Sleman shows Merapi volcano releasing lava on November 1, 2010.

MOUNT MERAPI, KOMPAS.com — Indonesian villagers who fled the now-scorched slopes of a smoldering volcano have another worry: tigers. Sightings of giant cat pawprints in the thick gray ash blanketing Mount Merapi’s slopes Tuesday sparked rumors a tiger or leopard was roaming abandoned farms searching for food.

Ratmo Supomo says he and his wife saw a pawprint the “size of a clenched fist” when they checked on livestock in Boyong, a village five miles (eight kilometers) from the peak. Most of the nearly 70,000 Merapi evacuees have crowded into government camps.

Tri Prasetyo, who heads a national park near the crater, said many animals naturally would flee volcanic activity. But a Javan Tiger was unlikely, as it’s believed to be extinct.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Indonesia

 

Indonesian Pilot Suspended after Plane Skids off Runway

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The Lion Air Boeing 737 carrying nearly 170 passengers skidded off a runway and plunged into a muddy field at the Supadio airport in West Kalimantan province, Nov 2, 2010

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – An Indonesian pilot was suspended Tuesday after a jet carrying nearly 170 passengers skidded off a runway and plunged into a muddy field, an official said. Nobody was hurt in the accident which took place at the Supadio airport in West Kalimantan province.

“An air safety team has gone to the site to investigate the cause of the accident,” Transport Ministry’s spokesman Bambang Ervan told AFP adding that the jet had arrived from Jakarta.

“We temporarily suspended the pilot until we concluded the investigation,” he said.

The Lion Air Boeing 737 was carrying 169 passengers and six crew members when it overshot the runway.

“The plane’s body has not been evacuated as its engine is submerged in the mud,” an airport’s employee Yudianto said adding that the airport remained close due to the incident.
The vast archipelago of Indonesia relies heavily on air transport but has one of Asia’s worst air safety records.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Indonesia