Volcanic Ash Threatens Indonesian Buddhist Temple

NDTV, Nov 11, 2010

Jogjakarta, Indonesia -- One of the biggest Buddhist temples in Indonesia, Borobudur, has become a victim of the eruption of Mount Merapi.

The volcano began spewing lava and volcanic gas over two weeks ago, killing more than 150 people and forcing 320,000 to abandon their homes.

Now the temple, 40 kilometers from the volcano, has been blanketed by ash.

The head of Borobudur Temple Conservation says the structure is in danger of further damage.        

[Marsis Sutopo, Head of Borobudur Temple Conservation]:            

"The temple is covered with thick ash. We want to prevent the situation from getting worse. Therefore we have closed this to visitors."

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Borobudur is decorated with almost 3,000 reliefs and more than 500 statues of Buddha.

While Mount Merapi's volcanic activity has dissipated, intense tremors are still being detected, keeping the area around the summit on the highest alert. 

Officials plan to cover part of the temple with plastic if the ash continues so it won't harm the decorative surfaces.