Tsunami, Volcano Kill at Least 300 in Indonesia; Storms Hit Midwest, South
Volunteers search for victims after Mount Merapi erupted near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images.
A thick layer of dust coated villages on the Indonesian island of Java after Mount Merapi began spewing lava and ash on Tuesday. Residents who were evacuated have started returning to their homes, despite uncertainty over continued volcanic activity in the mountain. At least 30 people have been confirmed dead. Mount Merapi last erupted in 2006.
Indonesia is also grappling with the effects of yesterday’s devastating tsunami, triggered by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake in Sumatra. The death toll has risen to at least 272, with more than 400 people still missing. Rescue efforts are underway, but some of the affected areas, including remote islands, are not easily accessible.
Some say an early warning system, built in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 tsunami, failed to work properly, leaving locals with inadequate time to flee the path of the tsunami.
Storms Hit Midwest and South, Head East
The storms have passed for states in the Midwest and South, which were hit with winds of up to 81 miles per hour and a series of tornadoes that disrupted air travel and caused damage across the region. The National Weather Service says the storms are now headed East, and has issued warnings for severe weather throughout the day.
Karzai Postpones Ban on Private Security Firms
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has postponed a ban on private security firms operating in the country. The announcement comes after revelations of payments from Iran added to the ongoing strain between Karzai’s government and the U.S. The Afghan government said it will form a committee to phase out contractors without damaging existing projects.