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Blast from Indonesia volcano raises deaths to 122

Nov 5, 2010 8:20:00 AM - thestate.com
Searing gas avalanched down an Indonesian volcano with a thunderous roar, torching houses and trees and incinerating villagers as they fled Mount Merapi's worst eruption in a century. Dozens of bodies found Friday raised the death toll to 122.

The injured - with clothes, blankets and even mattresses fused to their skin by the 1,400 degree Fahrenheit (750 degree Celsius) heat - were carried away on stretchers following the first big explosion just before midnight.

Soldiers joined rescue operations in hardest-hit Bronggang, a village nine miles (15 kilometers) from the crater, pulling at least 78 bodies from homes and streets blanketed by ash up to one-foot (30-centimeters) deep.

Crumpled roofs, charred carcasses of cattle, and broken chairs - all layered in white soot - dotted the smoldering landscape. Merapi was active throughout the day Friday.

The volcano, in the heart of densely populated Java island, has erupted scores of times, killing more than 1,500 people in the last century alone. But tens of thousands of people live on its rolling slopes, drawn to soil made fertile by molten lava and volcanic debris.

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