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Death toll rises to 240 from Indonesia volcano

By the CNN Wire Staff
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A look at the world's erupting volcanoes
  • At least 162 people suffer severe burns
  • Mount Merapi started erupting on October 26
  • Officials say almost 400,000 people have fled their homes
  • The worst may be over, authorities say, but a danger zone remains

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- An Indonesian volcano has killed 240 people since it started erupting in October, officials said Saturday, a day after it spewed more hot ash and sent residents fleeing.

More than 390,000 people have been displaced, according to the nation's disaster coordination board.

At least 162 people suffered severe burns, the board said on its website.

Indonesia's Mount Merapi started erupting on October 26. On Friday, it spewed volcanic material for more than an hour.

Ash everywhere from Mt. Merapi
Survivor tells of Merapi terror
  • Indonesia
  • Volcanoes

Merapi, which looms on the horizon north of the major city of Yogyakarta, is on the island of Java.

Officials said Thursday the worst may be over, but a danger zone remains within a 20-kilometer (12.2-mile) radius of the volcano.

Government experts have kept Merapi's alert level at 4, the highest. President Obama was forced to cut short his visit to Indonesia this week because of the volcano's ash cloud.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called the volcanic eruptions a crisis situation. Over the weekend, he and several ministers visited the area to oversee relief efforts.

The volcano has a summit elevation of almost 3,000 meters (10,000 feet). It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes and lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas.

About 1,300 people died when the volcano erupted in 1930.

Many people continue to live in the shadow of the volcano, raising crops and livestock.

The president has announced that residents will receive compensation for livelihoods and animals lost to the eruptions. The government will buy endangered cows on the volcano, Yudhoyono said.

Many of those who live on its slopes risked their lives by staying or returning to feed their cows during lulls in the volcanic activity.

CNN's Andy Saputra contributed to this report.