Skip to main content

Death toll, evacuations rise after Indonesian volcano erupts

From Kathy Quiano, CNN
Click to play
Deadly eruptions in Indonesia
  • NEW: Volcano has not formed new lava dome
  • Volcanologist does not expect another eruption soon
  • Indonesian president cuts short trip to Vietnam, returns home
  • The volcano erupted at least three times Tuesday

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's government, already beset by a killer earthquake and tsunami, moved Wednesday to help tens of thousands of residents displaced by a volcanic eruption that also claimed 29 lives.

Thirty-eight people were injured and 42,000 were evacuated around Mount Merapi on Java, according to the country's National Disaster Agency.

The volcano erupted at least three times Tuesday, forcing residents to flee.

Merapi, which looms on the horizon north of the major city of Yogyakarta, is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas. The volcano has a summit elevation of nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).

Video: Volcano erupts in Indonesia
  • Indonesia
  • Mount Merapi

Because no new lava dome has formed, Merapi remains dangerous, a government assessment team leader told the official news agency Antara.

Hundreds of displaced residents crammed a small government building in Yogyakarta. Many had fled with only the clothes on their backs.

Slamet Riady, 64, has lived through Merapi's many eruptions.

"This was bigger than the past eruptions," he said. "They rang the siren, and we had no time to bring anything. The most important thing was to save ourselves."

Nearby, volunteers led a group of young children in song and dance. Yoppy Riskiadi said many of the children are going through a stressful situation and need a sense of normalcy. "We're here to cheer them up so they can be happy and be children," he said. "It's simple. We sing, dance and act crazy. They're children and they should be carefree."

Merapi's volcanic activities have decreased significantly, Indonesian chief volcanologist Surono told CNN.

"An explosive eruption will not happen again in the near future," Surono said.

Merapi spewed more ash this time than in previous eruptions, he said.

CNN iReporter Prasakti Ramadhana told CNN the volcanic ash produced heat in the area. Ramadhana, who lives about 12 miles from Merapi, said rain Wednesday night was limiting the spread of ash.

The volcano and the recent Indonesian earthquake and tsunami forced President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cut short a visit to Vietnam, Antara reported.

Medical and food donations for volcano victims were coming in, Antara said.

CNN's Brian Walker and Phil Gast contributed to this report.