Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta
Updated: May 28, 2018 10:50 AM GMT
Mount Merapi erupts on May 11 sending a giant ash cloud 6,000 meters into the sky. (Photo by Father Martinus Sutomo/Caritas of Semarang Archdiocese)
Church social action arm Caritas has rushed to distribute thousands of face-masks and provide eye drops to people living in Indonesia's Semarang Archdiocese following a series of volcanic eruptions.
Considered one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, Mount Merapi, in central Java, has seen at least nine eruptions over the last month, sending steam and ash clouds 6,000 meters into the sky, seriously affecting air quality for thousands of people.
The last eruption of the 2,930-meter volcano occurred May 24.
As of May 28, a three-kilometer exclusion zone around the mountain had yet to be lifted.
Father Martinus Sutomo, deputy director of the local Caritas branch, said at least 15,000 masks and eye drops had been distributed to those living in the volcano's vicinity and who had complained of the air quality and irritation to people's eyes as a result of the ash.
"We will continue to distribute them until the alert status returns to normal," he told ucanews.com.
Distribution of the aid was carried out with the cooperation of 11 parishes in the archdiocese, including St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Magelang district.
Tarsisius Sugiono, a parish volunteer, said his parish established four distribution pints.
"We have given out masks and eye drops to school students and to people living in dozens of villages within a 6-kilometre radius of Mount Merapi," he said.
Poniyem, a 59-year-old Catholic woman, said the recent flurry of volcanic activity brought back haunting memories of a deadly eruption in 2010.
"I was forced to take refuge for a whole month," she said.
In October 2010, Mount Merapi erupted, killing at least 198 people and injuring thousands. More than 300,000 people were forced to evacuate.
Meanwhile, disaster mitigation authorities have warned local people to remain on alert since there was a high chance a more powerful eruption could occur at any time.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.