INDONESIA - An official with the Malang regency's health agency confirmed that seven people had died during the eruption of Mount Kelud. She added, however, that none of them had lost their lives as a direct result of the eruption.
"Some of them died because their houses collapsed while they were trying to clean them out, while others died of natural causes," Malang Health Agency head Mursyidah said on Saturday, without elaborating further.
As for the survivors, she went on, many of those who are now staying at evacuation camps are suffering from coughs, influenza, respiratory conditions and sore eyes.
"We also helped two women at the Batu State Hospital give birth during the evacuation process," she said.
People are currently prohibited from returning to homes located within 10 kilometers from Mt. Kelud, while the authorities wait for improved conditions.
According to the latest report, the volcano is still emitting toxic gas, which is being carried in different directions by the wind.
Despite the prohibition, however, some local residents had been returning to their homes - even those within the 10 kilometer danger zone. They acknowledged they were relying on the wisdom of their village elders, who have said the eruption is over and the volcanic activity has ended.
"The elders have been advising us from the very beginning, and their information has been very accurate. Therefore, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't trust them on this," Purwandi, a resident of Mancar village in Kediri regency, said.