Toll from volatile Merapi rises to 240

The death toll in a series of eruptions from an Indonesian volcano has hit 240.

The figure has continued to rise since a massive blast on Nov. 5 – the largest in a century – as rescuers have pulled more bodies from smoldering villages, people have died from their wounds and officials have counted deaths indirectly caused by the volcano.

Most of House overseas trips useless, badly planned

A House of Representatives lawmaker says that most of the overseas trips conducted by members of the legislative body are not well-planned.

“For example, why should members of the Flat Housing Bill committee visit Italy? They should have gone to Singapore, a small country which has a good track record in utilizing small spaces for vertical housings,” Ahmad Muzani from the Greater Indonesian Movement Party (Gerindra) said at the House in Jakarta on Friday.

Storms crippling tsunami aid to Indonesia islands

A group of private aid workers battled fierce swells and driving rain that kept most craft on shore Friday, managing to deliver food and other supplies to desperate survivors on the islands hardest hit by a tsunami that killed more than 400 people.

Government agencies pulled back boats and helicopters that had been ferrying aid to the most distant corners of the Mentawai islands and instead resorted to air-dropping boxes of aid from planes.

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