UPDATE 2: Mt Merapi Eruption Kills 35

RANDUSARI

At least 35 people were killed and dozens injured on Friday when Mount Merapi in Central Java erupted again, burning villages as far as 18 kilometres away, officials said.

The latest deaths bring the total toll to more than 70 since the country’s most active volcano started erupting on October 26.

“The death toll has risen to 35,” said a spokesman for Sarjito general hospital in Yogyakarta, which lies beside the volcano.

Many of the dead were believed to be children from Argomulyo village, 18 kilometres from the crater of the volcano, according to accounts of the destruction from emergency response officials.

Dozens of people are receiving treatment for burn injuries and respiratory problems due to the volcanic ash, he said.

Government volcanologists said Friday’s blasts were the largest yet.

“This is the biggest eruption so far. The heat-clouds went down the slopes as far as 13 kilometres and the explosion was heard as far as 20 kilometres away,” volcanologist Surono said.

The exclusion zone was widened from 15 to 20 kilometres around the mountain and everyone living inside was ordered to evacuate their homes and shelters immediately, he said.

Some 100,000 people are already living in temporary shelters.

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