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Mount Merapi volcano explodes with gas, ash KETEP - Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano exploded with clouds of hot gas and ash rain early on Monday, sending some villagers who had been reluctant to leave scurrying for safety. Grey ash covered some vegetation and rooftops in the area of Ketep, 10 kms (six miles) from the base of the mountain, and many houses appeared deserted after residents evacuated.

Not everyone was gone, however. Some people cleaned ashes off their houses and others opened shops, while commercial mini-buses continued to run. The mountain "has exploded already", the head of the Merapi section at the Centre of Vulcanological Research and Technology in Yogyakarta told Reuters. He cautioned, however, that the mountain's eruption process could be gradual rather than a sudden burst.

14 May 2006: The Merapi volcano releases a huge cloud of hot gas, as seen from Pakem village on the outskirts of Yogyakarta.
14 May 2006: The Merapi volcano releases a huge cloud of hot gas, as seen from Pakem village on the outskirts of Yogyakarta.
From Ketep, the top of Merapi was totally obscured by thick grey and white clouds, which trailed down the volcano's slopes. Earlier, Ratmono Purbo, the head of the vulcanology centre in Yogyakarta near the volcano, told reporters the mountain was spewing clouds of hot gas and was raining down ash. Neither are new since activity picked up in recent weeks on Merapi, one of the most menacing volcanoes in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", and there have been several lava flows in past days.

But Purbo said of Monday's hot clouds: "This is the biggest pile we have so far, adding that they "are billowing out of the crater for four kilometres (2.5 miles)". Indonesia raised on Saturday the alert status of Merapi to the highest level, also known as code red or danger status, although experts said they could not predict when it would erupt.

They have described the mountain as being in an "eruption phase" for weeks, but are looking for a substantial amount of volcanic material to be ejected straight into the sky to a substantial height to qualify it as a full eruption. The top alert level for the mountain means residents can be forced to evacuate. Authorities moved more than 5,000 people living near the volcano to shelters in safe areas after the new alert level.

Thousands more moved earlier, but some have refused to leave their homes while others have continued to return during the days to tend livestock, collect grass, or otherwise carry on their daily routines. Indonesian media reports said many who previously held back were leaving on Monday, carried in hundreds of trucks and cars. Some residents would rather rely on natural signs than official orders. They say those signals would include lightning around the mountain's peak or animals moving down its slopes.


Link to related event Related event:
Eruptive Mount Merapi

Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes') Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes'):
14 May 2006 · Villagers return to slopes of Merapi despite threat
13 May 2006 · Indonesia local tests show 5 positive on bird flu
13 May 2006 · Merapi Volcano alert prompts mandatory evacuations
12 May 2006 · Volcano chasers move in as locals flee rumbling Merapi
11 May 2006 · Evacuation as Mt. Merapi volcano spews molten lava
11 May 2006 · Hundreds return to slopes of Javanese volcano
08 May 2006 · Molten lava continue flows from Mount Merapi
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Posted in Volcanoes @ 15 May 2006 07:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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