Writethru: Indonesia's Merapi volcano erupts

Hot clouds again billowed down the slope of Mount Merapi Thursday morning over a distance of five kilometers in the direction of the upper reach of Gendol River, thus burning down northern part of Kaliadem forest area in the district of Sleman, Yogyakarta.

The volcano erupted more than 10 times from 06:00 to 09:00 Thursday morning. Eruption of hot air had lasted for 25 minutes since 07:20 (0020 GMT).

Such a long distance of hot clouds moving down from the mount's crater burning some forest areas in Kaliadem, but no casualty was reported in the disaster, official news agency Antara reported.

Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono said the government has prepared for emergency responses to deal with the volcano eruption.

"Unlike the earthquake, volcano eruption is more predictable. We actually has prepared for evacuation and other emergency responses since April," he said at a press conference in his office soon after the eruption.

"We have been prepared to deal with the challenges posed by Merapi over the last few months," he added.

Since Tuesday evening, residents on the slope of the volcano have begun to leave their villages for fear of killing gas clouds.

Thousands of residents in the villagers in Balerante Village, Kemalang Town, Klaten Regency, which was the nearest living area to Thursday's eruption, fled around.

Officials in the volcano monitoring post in Kaliurang, Sleman district, Yogyakarta said it was true that hot clouds had spewed out of mount's crater, but they were not sure whether the distance was five kilometers or not.

In Magelang regency, Central Java Province, the government has set up 52 camps for people fleeing the volcano eruptions. About 25 camps have already been occupied by the evacuees. They were provided with food and water.

Some 1,400 people, including 150 children, are staying in open-field tents at Jumoyo village, about 15 km from Mt Merapi.

"I'm very scared. My home is just several kilometers from the mountain," Sakirah, 60, told Xinhua.

She said she has just evacuated from her home Thursday morning with her family following the government's order.

The biggest problem among the people in the camps near the mountain now is the respiratory problem because of the volcano ash, said Gandhi, a red cross worker.

Two days ago, the rising supply of magma to the peak of Mt Merapi also caused an increase in the activity of that volcano, so that the lava in the mount's peak had reached not less than four million cubic meters.

Volcanological Research and Technological Development Center (BPPTK) personnel in Yogyakarta disclosed on Sunday that as the result of the magma build up, the mount's new lava dome also rose, and tended to move to the west side of the peak of the volcano.

Every day, the volume of magma spewed out of the crater may reach 150,000 cubic meters and the supply of magma rose after last Saturday's tectonic earthquake.

The results of BPPTK's monitoring showed that the mount's dome has reached a height of 18 meters.

Lately, the mountain again belched hot clouds in big volumes after the glowing lava turned into hot clouds over a distance of four kilometers from the peak.

Mt Merapi for the first time in its near-eruption period threw up glowing lava which slid down the crater's western slopes over a distance of 2.5 kilometers on June 1.

The lava moved down in the direction of the upper reaches of the Boyong, Krasak, Lamat, Sat and Senowo rivers.

At least six out of 11 hot clouds moved down toward the Krasak and Boyong rivers over a distance of two kilometers, while the others settled down on the upper reaches of Gendol River after covering a distance of one kilometer.

On the same day, Mt Merapi also produced molten lava eight times. The flow moved toward the Krasak and Boyong rivers over a distance of two kilometers and 61 times toward Gendor river over a distance of 1.5 kilometers.

Earlier on May 31, the volcano belched hot clouds at least 15 times. In all 15 cases, the clouds moved toward the upper reaches of the Krasak and Boyong rivers over a distance of 3.5 kilometers. Five times the clouds settled on the upper parts of the Gendol river after covering a distance of two kilometers.

Merapi, located between Yogyakarta and Central Java Province, about 450 kilometers southeast of Jakarta, is one of the 65 volcanoes listed as the most dangerous in Indonesia. It has been placed on highest alert since May 13.

Source: Xinhua



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