Asia

Indonesia Copes With Tsunami, Volcano Eruption

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The death toll keeps climbing from the tsunami that washed over a string of remote Indonesian islands on Monday. More than 400 people have been killed. Some 700 miles away, Mount Merapi on the island of Java, erupted Tuesday. Thirty people were killed, and as many as 40,000 people have been displaced.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:

When a tsunami struck some Indonesian islands, this week, a man named Joey Melroy was on a boat at sea. Melroy works as a surf guide.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Once he rode out the waves, he took a look at the shore of the Mentawai Islands. Later, he took a phone call on his boat and told us what he saw.

Mr. JOEY MELROY (Surf Guide): A lot of trees and debris in the water. Just the smell of the earth as it washed out. A lot of dead fish. The coastline has been scrubbed clean. A place that used to be dense jungle, it looks like a bulldozer came through and just did laps around the island.

KELLY: We only have a partial idea of what damage has really been done. We do know that hundreds of people were killed.

INSKEEP: And that tsunami on Monday was followed by an Indonesian volcano that started erupting on Tuesday. John Pallister of the U.S. Volcano Disaster Assistance Program says this is pure coincidence. .

Mr. JOHN PALLISTER (U.S. Volcano Disaster Assistance Program): In this particular case, the volcano was already headed toward eruption before the earthquake took place and even had started erupting before the earthquake took place.

KELLY: Reporter Aubrey Belford of the International Herald Tribune is following both disasters.

Mr. AUBREY BELFORD (International Herald Tribune): While the fact that these happened so close to each other has shocked a lot of people abroad, in Indonesia, another natural disaster happening, it's really part of, I guess, daily life here.

INSKEEP: This is normal. The volcano has already displaced 40,000 people and it's erupting again today.

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