Indonesia’s Merapi volcano spews hot clouds, 500 evacuate

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) — Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano spewed avalanches of hot clouds yesterday morning as more than 500 residents were evacuated from its fertile slopes.

Fog was covering the volcano at the time, so the distance the pyroclastic clouds spread was not visually observed. The amplitude record and seismic recording data from Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Centre estimated the hot clouds spread less than one kilometre from the crater.

Local authorities yesterday evacuated more than 500 people living on the mountain in Magelang district on Java Island. “Until now, the potential danger is not more than five kilometres,” Chief of Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre Hanik Humaida said in a statement.

The geological authority had raised the alert level of Mount Merapi to the second-highest level in November after sensors picked up increasing activity. Tourism and mining activities were halted.

The 2,968-metre mountain is about 30 kilometres from the Yogyakarta city centre. About a quarter million people live within 10 kilometres of the volcano, according to authorities in surrounding districts.

It spewed ash and hot gas in a column as high as six kilometres into the sky in June, but no casualties were reported.

Mount Merapi spews volcanic steam from its crater as seen from Sleman, Yogyakarta, in Indonesia. PHOTO: AP