Indonesian authorities have evacuated hundreds of Javans living on Mount Merapi’s disaster-prone slopes following ominous rumblings within Indonesia’s most active volcano.
On Thursday, Indonesia’s geological agency raised Merapi’s alert level to the second highest after sensors picked up increased activity, reports the Jakarta Post.
About 500 people from four villages, mostly the elderly, pregnant women and children, were taken to emergency shelters in Central Java’s Magelang district.
Merapi has been active since 1548, with eruptions often causing many fatalities.
Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre head Hanik Humaida, warned on Friday that the 2,968-metre high mountain could erupt at any time, sending hot gas clouds roiling down its slopes up to 5km away.
Edy Susanto, a local disaster mitigation agency official, said the situation is being constantly monitored and emergency measures to evacuate all remaining inhabitants living within 6km of the crater are being prepared.
About 250,000 people live within 10km of the volcano which is just 30km from Yogyakarta city.
Rather than lava, Merapi has the unfortunate distinction of producing highly dangerous, fast moving clouds of hot gas and ash in quantities exceeding any other volcano on Earth.
In June 2020, Merapi spewed ash and hot gas in a 6 km high column into the sky but no casualties were reported.
Its last major eruption in 2010 killed 347 people and caused the evacuation of 20,000 villagers.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.