Indonesia’s Merapi death toll reaches 206

November 12th, 2010 - 11:44 pm ICT by BNO News  

YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Indonesia’s Mount Merapi death toll has increased to 206 after two weeks of constant eruptions, officials said Friday.

The National Disaster Management Agency confirmed the number of deaths after its latest count that included additional people who died from respiratory problems, heart attacks and other illnesses related to the eruptions. In addition, the number of refugees has reached 380,049 people have been displaced.

Despite Merapi’s hot ash slowing down, officials have maintained their guard up, warning people to remain distant as it could erupt again at any moment.

“The intensity of eruptions at Merapi has declined but the activity remains high,” said Surono, chief of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center, adding that refugees should respect the 20 kilometer (12.4 miles) danger zone. “We hope that refugees have not returned home yet,” he added.

Furthermore, “cold lava” floods could emerge as a serious threat as Indonesia’s rainy season is bringing heavy rains in the region.

“The cold lava flood threat needs serious attention,” Surono stated. A stretch of over 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) of the Gendol River has been completely covered in volcanic materials, while all 12 rivers whose upper streams originate in Mount Merapi have been flooded with volcanic residue.

Meanwhile, one of Indonesia’s most recognized temples and touristic attractions, the 1,200-year-old Borobudur, which is the world’s oldest Buddhist temple, has been covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash, threatening its 2,672 relief panels with further corrosion.

Dozens of people have been deployed to to clean the 80-hectare park, located around 35 kilometers from Mount Merapi, despite possible upcoming eruptions.

Also, the rare Javanese leopard, which is only found in the island of Java, has been spotted seeking safer ground as its regular habitat nears Merapi’s crater. The leopard is a critically endangered species with experts estimating that no more than 250 remain in the wild while some say as few as 50 totals their population.

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