Numerous people have been evacuated from regions near Mount Merapi in Indonesia after fears of a potential volcanic eruption.
Indonesia lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region highly prone to earthquakes where numerous volcanos exist. In particular, according to seismologists, there are more than 120 active volcanoes in the country.
Mount Merapi (meaning the one that makes fire) is a stratovolcano situated about 29 kilometers north of Yogyakarta city in Indonesia. It is currently considered the most active across the country as it tends to erupt once or twice every 10 years releasing pyroclastic flows and triggering rockslides. During the past 70 years, the activity of the volcano includes lava extraction into the volcanic crater with few dome collapses.
The last volcanic eruption occurred in June 2020. In particular, two blasts were identified each lasting 5 and 2 minutes, respectively. A plume of smoke rose at about 6,000 meters above the surface of the ground and volcanic ash spread in 39 Indonesian villages.
13 days before the explosion there was an increase in the region's seismic activity. In fact, 80 earthquakes were detected until the eruption.
According to Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, the volcano is under a new blast episode and may erupt again at any moment. Consequently, around 500 people from 4 villages have been forced to evacuate their residences.
On November 5, 2020, officials detected increased activity and escalated the alert level. Therefore, the plan suggests that all residents within a 6-kilometer radius from the volcano will be evacuated. Shelters will be provided for those evacuated for as long as it will be required.
Authorities are very cautious and want to take all the precautionary measures as the area is densely populated. All evacuations procedures are conducted in accordance with the health protocols issued to halt the spread of the COVID-19.
All activities associated with the volcano (e.g. mining) have been paused and the region can only be approached by experts and scientists.
Mount Merapi 2010 eruption
The most recent massive eruption of Mount Merapi occurred in 2010. The explosions lasted for more than a month (October 25-November 30) and triggered pyroclastic flows that impacted inhabitable areas. Many villages, situated more than 10 kilometers away from the volcano received about 30 centimeters of ash.
According to reports, people were evacuated from the hazardous areas but many returned amid the eruptions. In total, 353 people were reported dead and more than 570 injured. Moreover, about 350,000 were left homeless and numerous owners lost their livestock.
Watch a video of Mount Merapi's volcanic eruption processes recorded on October 29, 2010, below.
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