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The breathtaking view and sound of a pyroclastic cloud CANGKRINGAN - Two days ago, also soon after our breakfast, we got on our motorcycle to make the trip towards Klaten. Since all roads directly north of Yogyakarta were sealed off, and Cangkringan was one of the worst-hit areas, I wanted to go east as far as possible before driving back to the Mount Merapi volcano again. There were relatively little problems in that area, which was also easy to reach.

The main road towards the city of Solo brought us past Kalasan, Prambanan and the left turn to Cangkringan, but from here it was still too close. I only turned left after we had passed the sugar processing plants directly along the main road. From here, we drove in the direction of Kemalang and Deles Indah, a tourist hot spot on the slopes of the Mount Merapi volcano in the village of Sidorejo.

I knew Deles Indah only by name as I had never been there before. I also did not have the expectation that I was able to drive there that day, since the location is just about seven kilometers from the crater of the Mount Merapi volcano. It does offer spectacular views normally, but if that would be today as well was doubtful. The same views can be obtained if one was in Cangkringan, but that was a danger zone.

Via roads that brought us from village to village we approached the Mount Merapi volcano rapidly. I knew this, but we could not visually confirm this because of cloud cover. We also noticed signs indicating the road to Cangkringan, so it had to be relatively close from where we were. The only thing that we could see was an ever increasingly thick layer of volcanic ash and a gray column of clouds mixed with ash rising from the volcano.

A now deserted refugee camp in the area of Cangkringan, directly east of the Mount Merapi volcano, and far in the current danger zone.
A now deserted refugee camp in the area of Cangkringan, directly east of the Mount Merapi volcano, and far in the current danger zone. indahnesia.com

At an already deserted refugee camp along a main road on the countryside of Klaten in the direction of Cangkringan we asked several members of the Indonesian army whether the road to Cangkringan was stilla accessible. That was indeed the case, but I did not have the feeling that they knew what they were talking about because they were from West Java. Making the trip could also be far from safe.

A kilometer ahead we stopped at a small gas station of a villager. He filled us up with 14.000 Rupiah of fuel. He also was able to tell us that Cangkringan was still some ten kilometers away from here and that the trip could be made based on the information he received from other road users. There was more ash though, much more than the place we were talking to him.

Slowly but surely we drove in the direction of Deles Indah. The layer of ash on the road here was like a layer of dry snow, well spread on the road surface with only a few clearly visible tire tracks of other motorcycles and cars that have recently passed here. This road was much less used now since this area was well inside the danger zone. Most of the visitors were local residents, journalists and rescue crews I suspected.

A few moments later we made a short stop to see what we should do and decided to head on for a little longer. But less than a minute later we entered a village uphill via some sharp curves when all of a sudden one of the steep slopes of the Mount Merapi appeared in front of us. We stopped directly and heard absolutely nothing except a loud continuous thunder.

This thunder was absolutely no thunder, but the increasingly loud sound of a pyroclastic clouds with hot ash and other volcanic material which had just been exhausted by the volcano a few minutes earlier and was now finding it's way down one of the slopes. It was clearly visible as well; a thick cloud of ash came rolling down with high speed. In what direction, we were not able to see but there was not much wind and the sound was increasing as well.

After two quick snaps it was about time to turn around and leave the area again for safer grounds. The safe zone around the volcano had been put at 20 kilometers, and not the about seven we were away from the crater of the volcano now. Our fear increased further when a car came speeding down the slopes, signaling us, apparently to get away from here.

A hot ash cloud, pictured from Deles Indah at just seven kilometers from the crater of the Mount Merapi volcano. With a thundering sound this one came down it's slopes. Only time for two quick snaps and then it was about time to get out of there!
A hot ash cloud, pictured from Deles Indah at just seven kilometers from the crater of the Mount Merapi volcano. With a thundering sound this one came down it's slopes. Only time for two quick snaps and then it was about time to get out of there! indahnesia.com

We sped up quickly in first gear and soon we found ourselves at a crossing some two kilometers downhill. Some more people had gathered there as well, so we took a break here. From here, we could not see the pyroclastic cloud anymore, but the sound was just as clear as a few minutes earlier.

The fear that we had earlier vanished quickly, but we decided not to push on with traveling on the roads in this area for today. We gradually descended over beautiful and quiet roads in the area. The area is almost completely deserted, but later on we passed crowded refugee shelters as schools, mosques and army tents. The impact of the eruption reached large areas, without a doubt.


Related link Related link:
Activity history for Mount Merapi

Link to related event Related event:
Eruptive Mount Merapi

Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes') Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes'):
10 November 2010 · Mount Merapi still erupting, but less violent now
09 November 2010 · Over 200 missing after Mount Merapi eruptions
09 November 2010 · Refugee camps full, people forced to sleep in trucks
08 November 2010 · Mount Merapi victims buried in mass graves
08 November 2010 · Muntilan turned into disaster zone
08 November 2010 · Difficult search for missing and dead around Mount Merapi

Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes') Tags: Merapi, volcano, eruption, evacuation, dead, chaos


Posted in Volcanoes @ 10 November 2010 05:51 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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