CRS Helps Victims of Volcano, Tsunami in Indonesia

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Volunteers carry the body of a victim of the Mount Merapi eruption at Kinarrejo village in Sleman, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, October 27, 2010. Photo by Reuters/Beawiharta, courtesy www.alertnet.org

One of the world’s most active volcanoes, Indonesia’s Mount Merapi, erupted this week, spewing ash and gas down its slopes and killing 25 people. Thousands of people, many covered in white ash, fled the area before the eruptions and retreated to evacuation centers in Central Java. About 30 people are being treated at local hospitals for burns and respiratory problems resulting from the volcanic ash.

The local government in Central Java has identified seven evacuation sites and plans to relocate residents within a 10-kilometer radius of the volcano and distribute relief supplies.

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Mount Merapi volcano emits smoke as it is seen from Kinahrejo village near Yogyakarta October 26, 2010. Photo by Reuters/Beawiharta, courtesy www.alertnet.org

Catholic Relief Services is supporting the local archdiocese by providing 2,000 blankets, 2,000 sarongs and 800 tarps. The goal is to assist approximately 10,000 people who fled the area.

Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country.

Nearly 800 miles away in a remote region of Indonesia, a four-meter tsunami triggered by an earthquake killed at least 272 people. The wave swept away coastal villages, nearly 400 people are still missing and almost 4,000 people are displaced. Many bridges were destroyed, as well as four churches and three public schools. Rough seas and bad weather have made it difficult to travel there.

An emergency response team from Catholic Relief Services has just reached the area and will begin the process of finding out what emergency supplies are needed. Country Manager Yenni Suryani said CRS is looking at the possibility of working with Caritas members and local partners to provide immediate assistance—tarps and clean water—as well as transitional shelter during the early recovery period.

The fault line on Sumatra’s coast that caused the quake is the same one responsible for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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