They bring reports back with them. “I heard that my house has been destroyed,” said Parmi, one evacuee. “I’m afraid to go back because there is nothing.”
Volunteers and aid workers worry about morale at the camps, which are quickly becoming hot and overcrowded. Adequate supplies of clean water and sanitation are also problems. Workers say some camps have only five toilets for every 1,000 people.
At Wonokerto, soldiers hand out medicine to tackle minor ailments they worry could sweep through packed shelters and become big problems. The government called in the military Saturday to keep people from going back up the mountain, but villagers say they’ve grown up on the volcano and understand its dangers.
They say they can tell when an eruption is coming, but few were prepared for the deafening crack that accompanied the latest major eruption Monday, the third major explosion amid multiple explosions in the past week.
Scientists say the force of that blast helped relieve built-up pressure inside the volcano’s crater. But they also say Merapi could continue to belch hot gas and ash for weeks, stretching refugees' patience and the government’s ability to provide aid.
The plumes of smoke and ash have also forced at least two airlines to cancel flights. The Associated Press reported that Malaysian budget airline AirAsia and Singapore's SilkAir suspended several international flights to Yogyakarta and Solo, both within 20 miles of the crater and popular hopping points to the famed 9th century Borobudur temples.