November 14, 2010 in Nation/World

Death toll from volcano tops 240

More searing gas pours from Indonesia mountain
Slamet Riyadi Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Mount Merapi spews volcanic material today as seen from Glagaharjo, Indonesia. Merapi is the nation’s most active volcano.
(Full-size photo)

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – Indonesia’s most volatile volcano unleashed another cloud of searing gas as rescuers pulled more bodies from a village smothered a week ago by eruptions. The death toll from a series of blasts passed 240 today.

The mountain has continuously spewed ash – and occasionally torrents of rock, gas and lava in dramatic eruptions – since it roared to life Oct. 26 after years of dormancy. But several days of reduced activity have prompted scientists to warn that the volcano remains dangerous and they are still registering tremors around it.

The latest blasts confirmed that view. Lesto Kuswanto, an officer at a monitoring post on the mountain, said a hot cloud slid as far as two miles from the crater on Saturday.

Scientists from Japan, the U.S. and France are traveling to Indonesia to study the data from Merapi and share their experience as experts struggle to figure out what the volcano will do next, according to Surono, the chief state volcanologist.

The National Disaster Management Agency reported today that the toll from more than two weeks of eruptions had climbed to 242 from 206.

That figure has steadily risen as people with severe burns die from their wounds and officials count those who have died from illnesses related to the blasts.

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