Indonesia's volcano toll rises to 311

Updated: 2010-11-23 14:46
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SLEMAN, Indonesia -- The number of fatality of Indonesia's volcano eruption in Central Java rose to 311 on Tuesday, authorities started to build temporary shelters for those homeless, officials said.

The most volatile Mount Merapi of over 2,968 meters high in Central Java has frequently erupted since October 26, spewing hot ash containing sands and other materials to as high as 3,000 meters and forcing evacuation of hundreds of thousand people.

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National Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency said that the latest data of death toll on Monday evening was 309 people. The figure increased to 311 on Tuesday as two people being treated in main hospital of DR Sardjito in Yogyakarta died on Tuesday morning, said Ningsih, official in charge for managing the death bodies from the volcano eruption in the hospital.

"This morning one of the patients from the volcano eruption died and right now another patient also died," she told Xinhua.

As many as 465 people were still treated at hospital for their injuries, Disaster and Mitigation Management Agency official in Jakarta told Xinhua by phone.

The government has started building over 300 houses for survivors who have been homeless near the volcano, as over 300,000 of evacuees have returned home as the intensity of the volcanic activity was declining, officials said.

"The building of temporary houses stated Yesterday (Monday) at the safe area in Umbul Harjo village of Sleman district. At the beginning we set to build over 300 units temporary houses, but it may be increased by up to 500 units," Rusdiyanto official of Disaster and Mitigation Management Agency in Yogyakarta told Xinhua.

Official of the agency said that the number of evacuees in shelters had declined to 103,650 people from the peak of over 400, 000 people.

Volcanologist still imposes top alert status on Mount Merapi as its seismic activity still high, but the distance of the size of the evacuation zone has been decreased from 20 km to 10 and 15 km as the intensity of the volcanic activity has reduced.

Mount Merapi is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The Southeast Asian country lies in a quake-prone zone called the Pacific Ring of Fire, and now has 129 active volcanoes.

The previous eruption of Mount Merapi in 2006 killed two people. A 1994 eruption claimed 60. A major eruption in 1930 killed more than 1,000 people.