Yogyakarta, Indonesia (AFP) – Indonesia’s most active volcano on Wednesday erupted with a river of lava and clouds of blazing gas that flowed 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) down its slopes.
This is the largest lava flow on Mount Merapi since authorities raised the risk level in November, said Hanek Hamida, head of the Yogyakarta Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center.
After the morning rains, the ash turned into mud in several villages, where the sound of an eruption could be heard 30 kilometers (18 miles away). The police and rescue services have asked miners to stop working along the rivers, but no one has been evacuated.
Authorities had evacuated nearly 2,000 people living on the mountain in Magelang and Solomon regions on Java island in November, but most of them have since returned.
The alert has been maintained at the second highest level, and the authorities have asked people to stay away from the current 5 km (3 miles) danger zone around the crater as local departments in Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces are closely monitoring the situation.
The 2,968-meter (9,737 feet) volcano is located on the densely populated island of Java, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta. It is the most active of dozens of Indonesian volcanoes and has erupted repeatedly with lava and gas clouds recently.
The last major eruption of Merapi volcano in 2010 killed 347 people.
Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it is located along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a series of horseshoe-shaped seismic faults around the ocean.