Klaten, Central Java. The frequently-active Mount Merapi experienced a minor eruption on Monday morning, scattering ash over its southeastern slopes. Seismic instruments at a government monitoring station recorded a 5.4-magnitude earthquake in Malang, East Java, on Sunday night, and the two events are thought to be connected.
The mountain erupted three times between 6:54 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Monday, sending an ash cloud 1,500 meters into the sky.
“Volcanic ash was blown by prevailing winds to the south and east of the mountain. Some parts of Klaten and Sleman were covered by ash,” said Ahmad Sopari, of the Selo monitoring post.
The Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Agency (BPPTKG) recorded minor volcanic shaking in connection with the eruptions, but claimed the mountain’s activity is still within normal range.
BPPTKG head Subandriyo said the earlier Malang quake triggered magma shaking under the mountain and allowed high-pressure volcanic gas to percolate to the upper reaches of the volcano’s throat. This gas later burst from the crater and brought with it volcanic ash, he said.
Subandriyo said he believed the quaking was over and hence residents around Mount Merapi need not evacuate.
Bambang Haryoko, head of Kemalang district near Klaten, said volcanic ash had covered two villages, Balerante and Sidorejo, but he did not instruct residents to evacuate.
Klaten’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) chief Sri Winoto advised residents to wear masks and glasses, but not to react in panic to the minor eruption.
“We deployed our officers in some villages in case anyone required help, and continued to communicate with BPPTKG about the current situation at Merapi,” he said.
Merapi is one of the world’s most active volcanos, and is also surrounded by one of the densest rural populations in the world, along with a number of medium-sized towns.
The mountain erupted on Nov. 18 last year, sending up ash that reached the East Java town of Ngawi, around 100 kilometers from Yogyakarta.
In 2010, a series of eruptions from Mount Merapi killed more than 350 people.
It is one of 129 active volcanoes in the country, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of seismic activity.
Last month, 34 people were killed in two volcanic eruptions in Sumatra and Java. The Jakarta Globe