November 5, 2010 - Saturday, November 6, 2010 - High intensity eruptions continue at Merapi volcano, Indonesia. Heavy ashfall is occurring on the slopes of the volcano. Thick deposits of ash combined with rainfall is creating a lahar hazard. The danger zone has been increased to a radius of 20 km from the volcano, on the edge of the city of Yogyakarta. Roaring noises can be heard from a distance of 20 km. Pyroclastic flows claimed more lives on Friday, bringing the total to 118. Soldiers pulled at least 78 bodies from homes and streets blanketed by ash up to a 30 cm deep. Bodies were found in front of houses and in streets, and it appeared that many of the villagers died from the burning gas while trying to escape. Some hospitals are being overwhelmed with injured people. Nearly 200,000 people living on the mountain have been evacuated to emergency shelters. (Volcano News - John Seach, Volcano Early Warning Program, John Seach, VolcanoLive.com)
Cigarette companies are helping with the volcano relief effort. Employees from Sampoerna (owned by Philip Morris since 2005) one of Indonesia's largest tobacco companies, are helping out volcano victims while also taking advantage of a great marketing opportunity: wearing logo-emblazoned gear and saving people!, paid The team is one of several emergency response efforts organized by large Indonesian corporations in response to the devastating series of eruptions that have so far killed more than 100 people and displaced more than 150,000 rural residents in the last week.
VIDEO - Indonesia: This volcano brought to you by Philip Morris, By Will Carless, GlobalPost, 11/4/2010.
Background: Dating back to the early 19th century, Indonesia’s tobacco industry is one of its oldest and most profitable sectors despite being slapped with increasing taxes and vilified by the anti-tobacco lobby. Today, with more than 65 million smokers — the third most in the world — Indonesia remains fertile ground for the tobacco industry. Benny Wahyudi, director general of the agricultural and chemical sectors at the Ministry of Industry. The government still saw the tobacco industry as having a key role in the national economy, given that it contributed much revenue and employed at least 824,000 workers. From 2005 to 2009, the government’s excise tax revenue increased from Rp 33.3 trillion ($3.73 billion) to Rp 56.7 trillion, thanks to cigarettes, which account for 97.8 percent of all excise tax receipts. (Despite Tobacco Excise Rise Indonesian Tobacco Firms’ Profits Keep Increasing, Faisal Baskoro, Jakarta Globe, 11/1/2010.Representatives of the companies working on the mountain said their efforts are entirely altruistic, and balked at any suggestion that the aid teams double as a marketing campaign for the companies.
Smoking prevalence among Indonesians aged 9 to 18 increased 14 percent last year, the highest in the world, says YLKI (Indonesian Consumers Foundation) chairman Tulus Abadi.
Indonesia - paradise for smokers and paradise for tobacco companies..
References: Cigarette Companies Sponsor Volcano Rescue Efforts">
by Will Carless, npr.org, 11/5/2010; Indonesian Cigarette Company Heroically Rescues Volcano Victims, Jeff Neumann (email@example.com), Gawker.com, 11/6/2010.