I wrote last week about the Mount Merapi Volcano in Indonesia shortly before it started erupting. Now that it has been erupting for about a week it has killed a few dozen people. This and a tsunami that has killed hundreds are generating quite the destruction and havoc in the 4th most populated country in the world. Slamet Riyadi of the Associated Press writes:
Evacuees cringed and fled for cover Monday as an erupting volcano — one of 22 showing increased activity in Indonesia — let loose booming explosions of hot gas and debris in its most powerful blast in a deadly week. No new casualties were reported.
The new blast from Mount Merapi came as Indonesia also struggles to respond to an earthquake-generated tsunami that devastated a remote chain of islands. The twin disasters, unfolding simultaneously on opposite ends of the seismically volatile country, have killed nearly 500 people and severely tested the government’s emergency response network. In both events, the military has been called in to help.
One of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, Merapi has killed 38 since it started erupting a week ago.
Even in the crowded government camps miles away, people still instinctively ran for shelter at the power of Monday’s eruption, which was accompanied by several deafening explosions, said Subrandrio, an official in charge of monitoring Merapi’s activity. About 69,000 people villagers have been evacuated from the area around its once-fertile slopes — now blanketed by gray ash — in central Java, 250 miles east of Jakarta, the capital.
As massive clouds spilled from the glowing cauldron and billowed into the air — continuing for nearly three hours after the blast — debris and ash cascaded nearly four miles down the southeastern slopes, Subrandrio said.
But Mount Merapi is not the only volcano and Indonesia, and it is not the only one acting up right now.
Indonesia has several volcanos smoldering at any given time, but another government volcanologist Gede Swantika said there are normally only five to 10 on the third-highest alert level, indicating an increase in seismic activity and visible changes in the crater, and none at the second-highest, signifying an eruption is possible within two weeks. He said monitors noticed more volcanos were exhibiting seismic activity starting Sept. 2.
The government has raised alert levels of 21 other volcanoes to the second- and third- highest levels in the last two months because they have shown an increase in activity, said Syamsul Rizal, a state volcanologist, said monday. Many of those are already rumbling and belching out heavy black ash.
“We can say this is quite extraordinary, about 20 at the same time,” Swantika said. “We have to keep an eye on those mountains. … But I cannot say or predict which will erupt. What we can do is monitor patterns.”
Completely fascinated with volcanoes in Indonesia? Read more via MSNBC: Indonesia volcano erupts anew; 21 more rumble
Photo Credit: Merapi volcano erupting by coolinsights via flickr (CC license)