SBY Plans Kelud Visit as Solo and Yogyakarta Take Precautions; 2 Dead After Malang Shelter Collapse

Police distribute face masks to residents on the streets of Malang, East Java on February 14, 2014 as volcanic ash covered the city following the eruption of Mount Kelud, considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on densely populated Java. (AFP Photo/Aman Rochman)

Police distribute face masks to residents on the streets of Malang, East Java on February 14, 2014 as volcanic ash covered the city following the eruption of Mount Kelud, considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on densely populated Java. (AFP Photo/Aman Rochman)

Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would visit the devastated area around Mount Kelud within the next two or three days after the East Java volcano erupted with great force, killing at least two, forcing thousands to flee and disgorging ash 17 kilometers into the sky.

“We’re prioritizing mitigation on site for today and the day after,” the president said on Friday. “After that, I will visit the site to see the real conditions.”

He said that he had spoken with Syamsul Maarif, the head of the National Disaster Agency (BNPB).

Solo mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo instructed all schools and universities in his jurisdiction to close on Friday, and Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwono X also put in place an Emergency Response Status for his city, in effect for three days: Feb. 14 to 16.

Collapse

To date, the eruption has claimed two lives: Sanusi, 70 and Sair, 88 — both residents of Ngantang subdistrict in Malang, East Java. Sanusi died from respiratory complications and Sair was killed when the roof of a Malang shelter collapsed on him under the weight of collected ash. Ngatini, 85, was also injured in the collapse and was in critical condition, Indonesian news portal Okezone.com reported.

Bagyo Setyono, head of the Malang Disaster Mitigation Agency’s Emergency and Logistics division, confirmed that the roof of Malang’s Selorejo Indoor Tennis Venue, an evacuation post, had caved in, forcing relief operations to relocate to Pujon, also in Malang district.

“Based on the suggestion of Malang’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency [BMKG], safe areas are located at least 10 kilometers from the top of Mount Kelud,” he said. “That’s why we’re evacuating residents to Pujon, Batu or Malang.”

Evacuation

Bagyo added that based on recent data, more than 14,000 residents of Ngantang and Kasembon subdistricts have evacuated, although many remain in their homes even as thick ash coats the area.

“There are still many residents that we not evacuated because they panicked and ran to nearby villages such as Pagersari, Sidodadi, Ngantru and Pandansari,” Bagyo said.

A joint team consisting of members of the police, the army, the BPBD and the Malang Red Cross are actively relocating residents to safer areas. The Jakarta Globe

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