Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupts spewing ash into sky as thousands forced to evacuate

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupts spewing ash into sky as thousands forced to evacuate

Thousands have been forced to evacuate after Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupted on Sunday, ejecting plumes of gas clouds into the sky and sending streams of lava flowing down its slopes for over a mile.

Merapi unleashed clouds of hot ash and a mixture of rock and lava that travelled up to 2km (1.2 miles), said Agus Budi Santoso, the head of Indonesia’s Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Centre.

A column of hot clouds blasted 100 metres (109 yards) into the air as ash blanketed several villages, he said, adding that the eruption has not seen any casualties on the densely populated Indonesian island of Java.

Residents living on the slopes have been advised to stay seven kilometres (4.3 miles) away from the crater’s mouth and be careful of possible threats from the flowing lava.

Merapi is Indonesia’s most active volcano out of the 120 spread across the country.

This is the  latest volcanic eruption in Indonesia since officials raised the alert level to the second-highest in November 2020 in the wake of increasing activity on its sensors.

On Sunday, several other active volcanoes also erupted in the archipelago, forcing authorities to issue evacuation messages to thousands of residents, said Indonesia’s Center of Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation. It confirmed no casualties were reported.

Another volcano, Mount Lewotobi Laki Laki in East Nusa Tenggara province, also spewed hot clouds as high as 700 metres into the sky on Sunday. More than 6,500 people were forced to move to shelters.

In the series of several eruptions over the weekend, Mount Marapi in West Sumatra province also erupted – marking its third biggest flare-up this month. However, it did not send lava spewing down its sides. The flare-up forced evacuations of about 500 people living near the area. A similar eruption last month killed 23 climbers and several others were injured.

On Saturday, Mount Semeru in East Java province also erupted and released searing gas clouds and rivers of lava. Another stratovolcano called Mount Ibu – meaning it is conically shaped with relatively steep sides – erupted in North Maluku province, shooting a column of hot ash as high as 1.3km into the air.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its geographical position along the “Ring of Fire”, a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean.