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Evacuated Indonesians return defying volcano alert

Late Tuesday, tens of thousands fled or were evacuated from villages close to Mount Kelud after it was placed on the highest alert level, meaning scientists believe an eruption may be imminent.

  • Agencies
  • Published: 11:20 October 17, 2007
  • Gulf News

Mount Kelud, Indonesia: Thousands of villagers defied warnings of a major eruption at one of Indonesia's
deadliest volcanoes, leaving refugee centers Wednesday and returning to its slopes to tend to crops and animals.

Late Tuesday, tens of thousands fled or were evacuated from villages close to Mount Kelud after it was placed on the highest alert level, meaning scientists believe an eruption may be imminent.

The 1,731-metre volcano, which has been showing signs of an eruption for several weeks, last blew its top in 1990, killing dozens. In 1919, a powerful explosion destroyed a hundred villages and claimed 5,160 lives.

Local authorities began mandatory evacuations of more than 100,000 people living within 10 kilometres ( of the peak late Tuesday, a statement from the national disaster agency said.

It was unclear exactly how many people had left, but on Wednesday morning thousands left temporary evacuation camps by truck and motor bikes and returned to their villages, complaining they had received no food and saying they must tend crops, witnesses and officials said.

"There was no food at all," said Darmiashiah, a 33-year-old woman who returned to the village of Sugihwaras, well within in the evacuation zone. "If I get told to leave again, I will not go," said Darmiashiah, who goes by a single name.

Emergency coordinator Herry Noegroho promised more tents and food at refugee centers.

Unlike some volcanoes, Mount Kelud does not smoke or rumble in the run up to an eruption.

Indonesia has 400 volcanoes, of which around 150 are active.


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