It’s a story that is taking a long time to filter through to the western world – but three major natural disasters have combined to kill dozens, if not hundreds, of people in Indonesia.
A major earthquake, tsunami and volcanic eruption are creating a picture of a nation under attack from Mother Nature.
A powerful 7.7 quake hit west of Indonesia on Monday night sparking what was described as a significant tsunami. At the time this story was written 112 people had been confirmed dead with as many as 500 still missing.
Reports coming in to various news agencies say the tsunami was between 3 and 6 metres high.
However the tsunami has hit an incredibly remote part of Indonesia and so far no images or TV footage has come through. Rescue workers are struggling to reach the remote islands as well.
Yesterday CNN managed to get some news from where the tsunami hit via satellite phone. The latest news was that resorts had been competely destroyed but that over 100kms of coastline had not be surveyed yet – indicating damage to buildings and numbers of fatalities may rise further.
In 2004 Indonesia lost 150,000 when one of the largest earthquakes on record, a massive 9.1 quake, hit on Boxing Day. The tsunami killed 250,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
Indonesia is also being affected by a volcanic eruption which has killed at least two dozen people.
According to The Hindu news website, television footage showed rescue workers using a chainsaw to cut away fallen trees blocking the evacuation routes.
Mount Merapi volcano erupted on Wednesday, spewing clouds of hot ash up to 1.5 km into the sky and sending hot debris south and south-west down its slope. Hundreds of homes and other property were heavily damaged.
Thousands of residents living in the danger zones panicked and ran out of their homes into vehicles waiting to carry them to the evacuation centres. Many initially refused to flee when experts on Monday upgraded the volcano’s alert to red and ordered them to immediately abandon their homes.
Television footage showed residents, most wearing masks, being taken away in trucks with windscreens covered by dust.
Metro TV reported that 15 badly burned bodies were found near the house of Mbah Marijan, the man known as the keeper of the mountain, who had refused to leave his home.
Officials at Sardjito and Panti Nugroho hospitals in the city of Yogyakarta, near the volcano, confirmed that 12 bodies had been brought in, while 40 injured people were treated.
The Jakarta-based Vivanews.com news website confirmed that one of its reporters was among the dead.
A 3-month-old baby was dead on the way to Muntilan Hospital in Magelang district, while at least 60 people were treated for respiratory problems from the volcano’s dust, said an official who feared that the death toll could continue to rise.
Officials estimated up to 40,000 people live in the endangered areas.
The 2,968-metre volcano about 500-kilometres south-east of Jakarta last erupted in 2006, killing two people.
Its most deadly eruption on record occurred in 1930, when 1,370 people were killed. At least 66 people were killed in a 1994 eruption.
– WeatherWatch.co.nz, The Hindu, CNN