Indonesia volcano belches hot ash in new eruption

Friday, October 29, 2010

JAKARTA - Indonesia’s Mount Merapi spewed hot ash and other debris early Saturday in a violent eruption, sending residents fleeing to safety, a top vulcanologist said.

The volcano erupted just after midnight for 21 minutes, but there were no reports of casualties, said Surono, head of the Centre for Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.

“We have been unable to determine how far the hot clouds travelled because it was very dark,” he said.

The volcano erupted for the first time in four years Tuesday, killing 36 people and injuring dozens of others. Since then it has erupted three times.

The state Antara news agency reported that dust from the latest eruption blanketed much of the central Java city of Yogyakarta, about 30 km south of the volcano.

Residents living near the volcano heard loud blasts, prompting them to flee their homes in panic, Antara said.

Some residents had ignored official warnings not to stay within the 10-kilometre danger zone, fearing the safety of their property.

This week’s eruptions occurred after authorities upgraded the volcano’s danger alert status to its highest level Monday.

Searing volcanic debris burned trees, crops and livestock and blanketed nearby areas in grey ash.

The 2,968-metre volcano is located about 500 km southeast of Jakarta. Its most deadly eruption on record occurred in 1930 when 1,370 people were killed. At least 66 people were killed in a 1994 eruption and two people were killed in 2006.

Indonesia has the highest density of volcanoes in the world with about 500 in the 5,000-km-long archipelago nation. Nearly 130 are active, and 68 are listed as dangerous.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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