Death toll 259 from volcanic eruptions

Nov. 15, 2010 at 11:14 AM

JAKARTA, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The number of people who died from recent eruptions of Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano rose to 259 Monday, government officials said.

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said volcanic activity Monday included 12 earthquakes, CNN reported.

The toll has increased as rescuers searched for victims, the National Disaster Management Agency said. Officials said at least 511 people were being treated for severe burns

The volcano, which began its recent round of eruptions Oct. 26, displaced nearly 400,000 people, the disaster officials said.

Disaster officials have either expanded or contracted danger zones in various areas, depending on volcanic activity in the past several weeks, leading to confusion among residents, CNN reported.

"Thousands of refugees have ignored the danger-zone warning and returned to their villages since Sunday," Sutopo Nugroho, director of disaster risk reduction from the national coordinating board, said Monday. "Most of them were confused because the safe zone in some areas have been reduced. We are sending teams to persuade these people to come back and put signs at the danger area to help prevent any more casualties."

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