Mount Merapi Erupts Sending Ash Cloud as Far as Solo

Mount Merapi near Yogyakarta erupted on Nov. 18 at sunrise, forcing villagers to temporarily leave their homes. (JG Photo/Boy T Harjanto)

Mount Merapi near Yogyakarta erupted on Nov. 18 at sunrise, forcing villagers to temporarily leave their homes. (JG Photo/Boy T Harjanto)

The Central Java volcano Mount Merapi erupted early Monday morning, forcing villagers to evacuate their homes as wind carried a cloud of ash down the eastern and southeastern slopes of the volcano.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman of the Solo office of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said the eruption took place between 4:50 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., and that the agency had detected a series of small seismic quakes in the minutes before the volcano erupted.

Sutopo said in a written statement that this morning’s event shared similar characteristics with the 2,914-meter-high volcano’s July 22 eruption, but that the latest was marginally stronger. The eruption had softened by mid morning and the agency was evaluating whether Merapi would continue to pose a risk.

The ash cloud blew as far as Solo and blanketed Boyolali in ash. Villagers in Glagahharjo, Sleman, and several small communities around Boyolali’s Selo subdistrict left their homes to fixed evacuation points. The affected residents, were, however, able to return to their homes by mid morning.

The Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Agency (BPPTKG) in Yogyakarta said that the ash traveled as far as 61.9 kilometers from the peak.

“Multi-phased quakes occurred 10 times before 04.58 but at on insignificant scales. No volcanic quake was recorded before the ash eruption,” said Lasiman, an officer at the Merapi Monitoring Post in Kaliurang.

Mount Merapi’s last major eruption was in October, 2010 when an ash cloud killed 32 people on its slope and forced more than 50,000 people to flee their homes.

With additional reporting by Ari Susanto – Jakarta Globe

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