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Merapi residents get ready to flee YOGYAKARTA - People living on the slopes of smoldering Mt. Merapi in Central Java are getting ready to evacuate if the time comes. In Hargobonangun village in Pakem district near Yogyakarta, residents have put 110 vehicles on standby for evacuation purposes if the volcano erupts. "Though we have received no assistance from the Sleman regency administration or Yogyakarta province, we have taken a number of steps to prepare ourselves for an eruption," the head of Hargobonangun village, Mulyono, said.

Besides preparing the vehicles, he said, residents had collected together makeshift tents to accommodate displaced people. Directions for evacuation have also been conveyed to residents through local community leaders, he said. "We have to anticipate what's to come early on. There are up to 4,000 people in this village. With no preparations, it would be dangerous," said Mulyono, who has been sleeping in his office for the last week.

Similar steps have been taken by other mountainside communities, including in nearby Cangkringan district, Kemalang district in Klaten and the districts of Dukun Srumbung and Sawangan in Magelang. In Glagaharjo, Cangkringan, a makeshift tent that can accommodate 100 people has been erected. "A public kitchen has also been prepared," said Suryadi, head of the district law and order office.

In Kemalang, preparations for evacuation have been made over the last seven days, including putting up a shelter."We have ordered 20 volunteers to be on alert in anticipation of an eruption. They have an ambulance and communications equipment at their disposal," said Wagiyono, head of the Klaten chapter of the Indonesian Red Cross. Wagiyono said the Red Cross was coordinating with local search-and-rescue teams.

Local people have also packed bags containing their valuables, especially things like land certificates and diplomas. "However, we will not leave our villages until we see wild animals, like tigers and monkeys, fleeing down the slopes," Sumarno, a resident of Tegal Mulyo village, said. Many locals are confident the behavior of animals will give them an early warning.

Despite the alert status, however, there was no change to school activities in Dukun, Srumbung and Sawangan districts, while sand miners and farmers kept to their routines. Seismic activity on Merapi is classified according to its stage, with alert status indicating the highest level of danger.

Mount Merapi erupted in 1672, killing between 3,000 and 5,000 people. It erupted again in 1954, 1961, 1994 and 2001.

Villagers living near Mt. Merapi continue with their daily activities Monday despite the volcano expelling sulfurous fumes up to 100 meters into the air.
Villagers living near Mt. Merapi continue with their daily activities Monday despite the volcano expelling sulfurous fumes up to 100 meters into the air.

Link to related event Related event:
Eruptive Mount Merapi

Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes') Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes'):
16 April 2006 · Indonesia prepares for possible volcanic eruption
13 April 2006 · Govt boosts alert level at huge volcano, fearing eruption
12 April 2006 · Govt bans climbers as Mount Merapi volcano heats up
20 March 2006 · Villagers living on Gunung Merapi volcano put on alert
14 January 2006 · 10 volcanoes in Indonesia declared in alert status

Posted in Volcanoes @ 18 April 2006 07:10 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

User icon of Albert
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Merapi's activity climbs in wake of quake

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

A volcanologist warned Monday that Mt. Merapi's activity level had tripled in the wake of Saturday's catastrophic earthquake in Yogyakarta and Central Java.

A. Ratdomopurbo said an eruption was still possible following the quake -- measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale according to the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency -- after the volcano expelled more hot clouds of ash and gas which reached farther distances.

"The quake in Bantul clearly affected Merapi's activities. Since the quake, the volcano has discharged hot clouds three times more than usual," the chief of the Yogyakarta-based Volcanological Research and Technology Development Center told The Jakarta Post.

The volcano, which has been rumbling and spewing smoke and lava for weeks, only expelled 45 hot clouds Friday, but the number rose to 54 on Saturday and then jumped to 159 on Sunday.

"The increase might have happened because the lava dome was shaken, opening up a new way for the hot clouds (to be released)," Ratdomopurbo said.

International volcanology experts were divided about whether the earthquake and the volcano's heightened activity were related.

Chew Soon Hoe, an associate professor of engineering geology at the National University of Singapore, said Merapi's renewed activity and the earthquake are related. Both are in the same subduction zone -- the area where one tectonic plate slides under another plate -- along a boundary between the Euro-Asia plate and the India-Australia plate, he told AP.

"This ocean plate ... is the cause of the recent earthquake and volcanic activity in Indonesia," Chew said. "Because it is very near, the energy released by the quake will accelerate or perturb the activity of the volcano."

David Booth, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, disagreed, saying the quake would not necessarily cause the volcano to erupt. He said the plates that shifted to cause the earthquake did not necessarily open cracks in the surface that would be needed to cause a volcanic eruption.

"Volcanoes are all about creating pathways for the magma to move up to the surface," Booth said in a telephone interview. "It's like a lemonade bottle having been shaken. There is enormous pressure there. But if there isn't a pathway to the surface, then the pressure will stay contained."

Ratdomopurbo said the clouds also were heading in a new direction, from the usual route toward Magelang city in Central Java to Gendol riverbank in Cangkringan, Sleman regency.

"The new direction of the hot clouds is the latest development in Merapi's activity," he said.

The clouds also reached a farther distance of four kilometers down the slope from recent days. It was similar to the distance of the first hot cloud recorded on May 15.

The increased activity, he added, also was marked by a higher number of tremors, from 29 recorded a day before the quake to 237 on Sunday. On Monday, in the period from midnight to 6 a.m., over 85 tremors had been recorded at the mountain.

Ratdomopurbo was unsure of the impact of Saturday's quake on the volcano's two lava cauldrons -- one located at 1.5 kilometers deep and the other 6 kilometers deep.

"We can't detect it because they are located deep under the surface. What we can observe is the increase in activity of its hot clouds," Ratdomopurbo said.

He predicted it would expel bigger hot clouds, with the greatest danger posed by an eruption due to high temperatures and toxic gases. The clouds -- which can reach temperatures of 1,000 degree Celsius at the crater and 400 degrees Celsius by the time they reach communities on the volcano's slopes -- killed 50 people during a 1994 eruption.

Sukamto, a resident of Senolewah village located some 6.5 kilometers from the crater, said hot clouds were more frequently seen and larger than usual as they headed south in the direction of the town of Sleman.

"All this time, the hot clouds never headed south. Now, they are bigger and darker," he said.

User icon of Jeroen
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Albert, can you please not do only newsdumps? It will be in the news section on the website as well, and now there isn't anything to talk about. Emoticon: Smile

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