Indonesian tsunami, volcano kill 300

Rescuers search for victims Wednesday at a village hit by pyroclastic flows from Tuesday’s eruption of Mount Merapi in Kinahrejo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The volcanic eruption and a tsunami on Monday killed scores of people hundreds of miles apart.

Associated Press

Rescuers search for victims Wednesday at a village hit by pyroclastic flows from Tuesday’s eruption of Mount Merapi in Kinahrejo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The volcanic eruption and a tsunami on Monday killed scores of people hundreds of miles apart.

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia — The death toll from a tsunami and a volcano rose to more than 300 Wednesday as more victims of Indonesia's double disasters were found and an official said a warning system installed after a deadly ocean wave in 2004 had broken from a lack of maintenance.

Hundreds were still missing after Monday's tsunami struck the remote Mentawi islands off western Sumatra, where officials were only beginning to chart the scope of the devastation. At least 311 people died as the huge wave, triggered by an undersea earthquake, washed away wooden and bamboo homes, displacing more than 20,000 people.

About 800 miles to the east in central Java, the Mount Merapi volcano was mostly quiet but still a threat after Tuesday's eruption sent searing ash clouds into the air, killing at least 30 people and injuring 17.

Among the dead from Tuesday's eruption was an 83-year-old man named Maridjan, who was entrusted by a late king from the nearby city of Yogyakarta to watch over the mountain's unpredictable spirits. He had refused to leave his house high on its slopes.

The discovery Wednesday of his ash-covered body, reportedly found in a position of Islamic prayer, kneeling face-down on the floor, rattled residents who for years joined his ceremonies to appease the rumbling giant by throwing rice, clothes and chickens into the crater.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono rushed home from a state visit to Vietnam to deal with the catastrophes, which struck within 24 hours along different points of the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a series of fault lines prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

The first cargo plane loaded with tents, medicine, food and clothes landed Wednesday in the tsunami-hit area, said disaster official Ade Edward.

Huge swaths of land were underwater and homes were torn apart by the 10-foot wave that hit Pagai Utara island in the Indian Ocean south of Sumatra. Hundreds of homes were washed away in about 20 villages, displacing more than 20,000 people, Edward said.

Many were seeking shelter in makeshift emergency camps or with family and friends.

Disaster in Indonesia

View a gallery of photos from the tsunami and volcano in Indonesia at tampabay.com/blogs/alleyes/

Indonesian tsunami, volcano kill 300 10/27/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 12:11am]

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