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Merapi evacuees begin leaving camps as danger recedes YOGYAKARTA - Close to 2,500 people have left safety shelters as Indonesian authorities cut back the areas thought to be under threat from simmering Mount Merapi, officials said Monday. After evaluating the volcano's activities in the past week, the Vulcanology office in Yogyakarta has reduced the areas considered as danger zones.

"People in areas outside of those zones can now return to their homes," Tri Yani from the vulcanology office in Yogyakarta was quoted as saying by AFP. People in the remaining danger zones, within seven kilometers from the top of the mountain and within 300 meters from the banks of seven rivers originating high on the volcano's slope, have been told to remain in evacuation centers, said Yani.

The vulcanology office said the top alert status remained in place "because there is still the potential that heat clouds are produced because of the magmatic activities at the peak." The volcano produced 49 lava flows and four heat clouds in the first six hours of Monday, travelling 2.5 kilometers down the mountain, Yani said.

She said the volcano was also producing fumes rising some 300 meters into the air but that this was down from 1.2 kilometers on Sunday. On Sunday the mountain spewed a total of 170 visible lava outflows and 44 heat clouds, Yani added. The heat clouds, which geologists have warned were the primary threat posed by the volcano, travelled as far as 3.5 kilometers down its slopes on Monday. The nearest village is at least six kilometers from the peak.

The office said that as a balance had been reached between magma supply and the amount of lava and heatclouds escaping the volcano, there was no substantial change in the volume of the lava dome at the mountain top. Scientists have warned that although the magma supply that forms the dome at the peak appeared to be weakening, the magma structure may collapse and spew out millions of cubic metres of volcanic rock and lava.

Monday morning was the first time in three days that a clear view of the mountain could be had as thick clouds and heavy rains had shrouded its slopes since Friday. A report from disaster coordination centers in the four districts said to be at immediate risk showed the number of evacuees at shelters around the mountain had fallen to 2,500 from a high of 19,500.

"Many in areas now declared safe have already returned home," said Hadi, from the Magelang control post.


Link to related event Related event:
Eruptive Mount Merapi

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Posted in Volcanoes @ 22 May 2006 06:51 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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