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Clouds of gray ash rumbled down the slopes of Indonesia’s most volatile volcano Saturday in its most powerful eruption of a deadly week, prompting soldiers to force reluctant villagers to evacuate amid fears of a larger blast.
On the other side of the archipelago, storms again prevented aid deliveries to increasingly desperate survivors of a tsunami – including a teenage girl with an open chest wound – that killed 413 people in the Mentawai islands. Relief workers found some comfort, however, when the number of missing dropped by half to 163 as searchers discovered more survivors and villagers who had fled to the hills returned home.
The simultaneous catastrophes have severely tested the emergency response network. Indonesia lies in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a cluster of fault lines prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Mount Merapi, which sprang back to life early this week, unleashed a terrifying 21-minute eruption early Saturday, followed by more than 350 volcanic tremors and 33 ash bursts, said Surono, chief of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.
The latest spewing of the notoriously unpredictable volcano forced the temporary closure of an airport and claimed another life, bringing the death toll this week to 36.
At least 47,000 people have fled the mountain’s wrath, according to the National Disaster Management Agency. Government camps well away from the base were overflowing with refugees, including most of the 11,000 people who live on the mountain’s fertile slopes. They were told Saturday, with signs the danger level was climbing, that they should expect to stay for three more weeks.
Despite such warnings, many people have returned to their land to check on precious crops and livestock. The new eruption triggered a chaotic pre-dawn exit, killing a 44-year-old woman who was fleeing by motorcycle, said Rusdiyanto, head of disaster management office in the main city of Yogyakarta.
For the first time Saturday, more than 2,000 troops were called in to help keep villagers clear of the mountain. Camouflaged soldiers stood guard in front of ash-covered homes and local television showed one woman who refused evacuation orders being carried away as she screamed in protest.
Still, the villagers may be later allowed to go back for a few hours a day if the volcano appears to be calm, said Djarot Nugroho, head of the Central Java disaster management agency, adding that they must return to the camps immediately if a new alarm is raised.
“Once the sirens go off, no excuse, everyone has to get back to the camps,” he said.
The eruption temporarily forced the closure of the airport in Yogyakarta, 12 miles south of the volcano, because of poor visibility and heavy ash on the south of the runway, said Naelendra, an airport official.
Despite earlier hopes that Merapi’s activity might be waning, scientists warned Saturday the worst may be yet to come.
High-pressure gas appeared to be building up behind a newly formed thick magna dome in the crater, “setting the stage, potentially, for a more explosive eruption,” said Subandrio, who heads the nearby volcanology center. “It’s a bad sign,” he said.
In the tsunami zone, where more than 23,000 people have been displaced, government agencies were forced to pull back boats and helicopters that had been ferrying noodles, sardines and sleeping mats to the most distant corners of the Mentawai islands because of stormy weather and rough seas.
A Manhattan judge has decided that a 4-year-old girl is old enough to know better and can thereby be sued for negligence when she seriously injured an elderly woman in a bicycle accident.
According to reports the little girl was racing her a bicycle with training wheels, on the sidewalk of a building in Manhattan when she accidentally struck an 87-year-old woman.
Sophisticated bombs contained in packages sent from Yemen were designed to explode in the air and bring down the cargo planes carrying them, the government confirmed.
Intelligence experts believe the use of the devices, contained in printer cartridges on board two Chicago-bound cargo planes, represents a shift in terrorist tactics to commercial targets.
Scientists at Wake Forest University have engineered a “miniature” liver in a lab that functions like the human organ.
It’s the latest tissue breakthrough at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which in 2006 reported the growth and transplant of bladders into humans. Anthony Atala, MD, the director of the institute, is a leading pioneer in the field of regenerative science.
Alan Grayson, a Democratic congressman in Florida, is alleged to be assisting Peg Dunmire, a third candidate, in order to protect his seat from a challenge by Daniel Webster, a Republican.
Grayson, Dunmire, Webster, FloridaOne of the founders of the Florida “Tea Party”, which Ms. Dunmire represents, has business connections with Mr. Grayson, and his son has worked as an intern for the congressman.
Countries around the world must team up to prevent an asteroid from slamming into Earth, scientists and former astronauts said Friday.
NASA has tracked nearly 7,000 near-Earth objects that are bigger than several feet across. Of those, 1,157 are considered “potentially hazardous asteroids.” “We can’t escape the conclusion that one could happen tomorrow,” former NASA astronaut Thomas D. Jones said.
During an interview on the program “CNN Late Edition” in 1992 Jerry Brown (D-CA) admitted that nearly everything he said in his first campaign for governor of California was a lie.
Jerry Brown: You run for office and the assumption is “Oh, I know what to do”. You don’t. I didn’t have a plan for California. Clinton doesn’t have a plan. Bush doesn’t have a plan.
Tensions escalated along the North Korea-South Korea border on Friday after the North fired two rounds at its southern neighbour. South Korean troops immediately fired back.
The shots from North Korea were fired towards a South Korean guard post in the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries. No one was injured and it wasn’t clear whether the shots represented a military action.
A man likely shot himself while sleepwalking, Boulder, Colorado police say. The Daily Camera reported that 63-year-old Sanford Rothman told investigators he had no clear recollection of the incident early Tuesday morning.
He told police he woke up to a “bang” and realised he had suffered a gunshot wound to his knee. No one else was in Rothman’s home at the time.
Raul Alvarado, a 34-year-old Arizona man is fighting to get his Sheriff’s Office job back after he allegedly painted a frog with White-Out and then zapped it with a stun gun because “he was bored.”
According to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Alvarado was terminated from his position after an internal investigation revealed that he tortured a frog back in August of 2009.
Still wondering what to get that special someone for the holidays? Why not “earrings with giraffe tail slices” from German anatomist Guenter von Hagens’ new online shop for euro41.53 ($57.55)?
Mr. Von Hagens, famous for his “Body Worlds” traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts, said Friday his new Internet shop is going online on Nov. 3, 2010.
An Angolan man has been recognised as having the world’s widest mouth by the Guinness Book of World Records. Francisco Domingo Joaquim, 20 – aka the Angolan Jaw of Awe – can fit a 330ml can of pop into his mouth – sideways.
He can stretch his mouth more than six-and-a-half inches wide, and recently put his skills to the test at the the Big Mouth competition in Rome.