Holy Hour at the SCJ student community in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, was interrupted Thursday night by the eruption of nearby Mt. Merapi. Soon, everything near the student community was covered in ash.
“The lights went out several times last night,” wrote Fr. Sigit Pranoto, SCJ, “At midnight, the doors of the house shook and the students ran out.”
A state of emergency has been declared for the area. During the night those close to the mountain fled. “There was an atmosphere of panic and the road became crowded,” said Fr. Sigit. Losing control in the rain of ash and gravel many of those fleeing got tangled up in accidents.
“This morning everything is covered in dust,” said Fr. Sigit. “During morning prayer and Eucharist the ash continued to rain down and even entered the chapel. Some wore masks.”
The SCJ school had an anniversary celebration planned for the weekend, but all activities have been cancelled so that the community can focus its efforts on assisting refugees from the areas most significantly impacted by the volcano.
The local hospital asked the SCJ Skolastikat to take in mentally handicapped refugees as well as patients from a nursing home affected by the eruption. The community set up room for 150 mentally and physically disabled patients; as of November 5, approximately 100 refugees were being hosted by the SCJs.
“Meanwhile, the families of our several of our SCJs have also been displaced,” said Fr. Sigit.
We will share updates on the website as they are available.
News of the Mt. Merapi eruption
The following is from the Christian Science Monitor:
The death toll from Indonesia’s Mt. Merapi doubled Friday when rescue workers uncovered more than 50 victims who had succumbed to the latest blast of superheated gas from a fierce eruption that began late Thursday night. The eruption burned villages up to nine miles away from the volcano’s crater and forced authorities to widen the evacuation zone.
The volatile volcano has killed more than 100 people and left nearly 90,000 in need of shelter since it first began erupting 10 days ago.
Shelters closer than 12 miles to the summit have been relocated and many evacuees were forced to move for a second time in two days. On Friday afternoon, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared the eruption a national disaster and tasked the country’s disaster management agency with overseeing relief operations.
Increasingly powerful eruptions have hampered relief efforts and caused panic among evacuees shaken by the intensity of the previous three days’ blasts. Officials widened the evacuation zone Thursday. The latest eruption sounded as people were loading into the trucks that would take them further down the volcano.