Features

Shaken faith

"Shaken faith" Continued...

Issue: "Bird flu," June 10, 2006

Habitat for Humanity Indonesia Earthquake Response Fund: 121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709; 800-HABITAT; www.habitat.org

Lutheran World Relief (LWR) Indonesia Earthquake: P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832; 800-LWR-LWR2; www.lwr.org

Mercy Corps Indonesia Earthquake: Dept. W, PO Box 2669, Portland, OR 97208-2669; 888-256-1900; www.mercycorps.org

SAWSO (Salvation Army World Service Office) South Pacific & East Asia Disaster Fund: 615 Slaters Lane, P.O. Box 269, Alexandria, VA 22313; 800-SAL-ARMY; www.salvationarmy.org

World Concern Earthquake Fund: 19303 Fremont Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98133; 800-755-5022; www.worldconcern.org

World Vision, Attn: Indonesia Earthquake Relief: P.O. Box 9716, Federal Way, WA 98063-9176; 888-511-6593; www.worldvision.org

Double jeopardy

Volcanos shake when the earth quakes, and Mount Merapi may be readying to blow

By Kristin Chapman

Mount Merapi rises to 9,700 feet on Indonesia's Java Island. In 1930, Merapi erupted, killing 1,300 people. More recently in 1994, 60 people were killed. Experts for the past month have warned villagers that the volcano poses a threat following recent activity and could erupt further at any time.

That threat increased last week after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on Java seemed to wake the volcano. Less than 48 hours after the quake, large billowing clouds of gas vented from the mountain crater and drifted two miles across quake-ravaged villages.

Following the quake, the Merapi division of the volcanology center reported that gas releases rapidly increased, with Mount Merapi releasing 150 gaseous clouds May 29, compared with an average of 50 the week before.

John Pallister, head of the USGS/OFDA's Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, and his team recently spent three weeks in Indonesia offering additional monitoring tools to experts at the Merapi Volcano Observatory in Yogyakarta. Mr. Pallister said the concern is when and if pyroclastic flows (fast-moving, superheated volcanic ash, debris, and gas) are going to reach population areas surrounding Mount Merapi. More than a million people live less than 20 miles from the volcano's summit.

"It's a lethal phenomenon we are talking about and it's happening in a place that's densely populated," Mr. Pallister told WORLD even before the quake struck. "This is a tense situation for the observatory staff."

Despite evacuation warnings for areas closest to the volcano, about 200 villagers steadfastly have refused to leave their homes because they believe spirits watching over the volcano will warn them of any danger. Warkijho, a 55-year-old farmer, told the Associated Press, "There is nothing to worry about here. The scientists may be concerned, but in my heart I know it is safe."

With the ground shaking beneath his feet, he may need to think again about what may come down from the mountain.

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