Indonesia: Aid Begins to Arrive

Jakarta. Tsunami survivors in Indonesia’s remote west received tents and other supplies today, and aid workers fed and provided necessities to evacuees from a volcanic eruption as the number of dead from the two disasters rose.

The death toll as of 4 p.m. local time from the tsunami on Monday that hit the Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra reached 343 and the number of missing fell to 338 as rescuers found more bodies, the National Disaster Management said on its Web site.

Bread, milk, tents and clothes arrived via ships from Padang and more is on the way from Jakarta, Maria, a volunteer at the West Sumatra Regional Disaster Agency command post, said by phone.

A transport plane that will carry supplies tomorrow arrived in Padang today, she said.

“We need food, medicines,” Maria, who goes by one name, said. “Some areas cannot be reached by cars. We’ve been able to reach those places with whatever it takes, by motorcycles or some even walking.”

In Central Java, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Jakarta, Red Cross Indonesia workers are treating people who were burned or otherwise injured after the Mount Merapi volcano erupted three times on Tuesday, spewing superheated ash.

The death toll rose to 34 with two others missing, and 39,564 people are staying at evacuation centers, the disaster management agency said on its Web site.

A small eruption occurred today, Surono, an official at the country’s Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center, said by phone. No injuries were reported.

The 7.5-magnitude temblor struck the Kepulauan Mentawai of Indonesia, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Padang, the provincial capital of West Sumatra, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake triggered a 3-meter (10-foot) tsunami that that reached 400 meters inland, the agency said on Tuesday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono returned yesterday from a regional summit in Hanoi to travel to the disaster zone, said Julian Pasha, a presidential spokesman.

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in the same area in October 2009 left more than 1,000 people dead in Padang, many of whom were buried in mudslides and the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Less than a month earlier, a magnitude-7 temblor south of Java on Sept. 2 left 82 people dead.

A magnitude 7 earthquake carries about as much as energy as 199,000 tons of TNT, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A tsunami generated by a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off northern Sumatra in December 2004 left about 220,000 people dead or missing in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean.

Since the December 2004 quake and tsunami, countries including Thailand, Malaysia and India have been installing detection buoys and setting up warning networks.

The system consists of seismological stations and deep-sea sensors, linked to more than 20 information analysis centers capable of receiving and distributing tsunami advisories.

Many coastal areas have been equipped with sirens or other alarms to warn of approaching waves.

Indonesia has had two of the world’s biggest volcanic eruptions in the past 200 years, Mount Tambora in 1815 and Krakatau in 1883.

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