Indonesia’s Most Volatile Volcano Erupts in Java, Blanketing Towns in Ash

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted on Monday, pouring ash and lava into the sky on Java, a densely populated island that is home to more than a dozen active volcanoes.

There was no immediate report of evacuations and nobody was killed, though hot ash from the eruption covered several villages and nearby towns.

Mount Merapi, the most volatile of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, has seen an increase in activity in recent weeks.

Sunday morning, the lava dome partially collapsed when a series of eruptions began, with the initial blast sending hot ash 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) into the atmosphere, said Hanik Humaida, the head of Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center.

The mountain spewed at least three new pyroclastic flows—avalanches of rock, ash, and volcanic gas—on Monday, she added, adding that it’s common for eruptions to last several days.

Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any country and straddles the so-called “Ring of Fire,” a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

NTD Photo
The Pacific “Ring of Fire.” (Public Domain)

“The Ring of Fire isn’t quite a circular ring. It is shaped more like a 25,000-mile horseshoe. A string of 452 volcanoes stretches from the southern tip of South America, up along the coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, down through Japan, and into New Zealand. Several active and dormant volcanoes in Antarctica, however, ‘close’ the ring,” according to National Geographic.

Mount Merapi, which is located near the cities of Yogyakarta and Solo, has a history of unleashing a series of eruptions. In 2010, a major eruption killed nearly 350 people and displaced thousands in Central Java.

Authorities have since advised residents to stay 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) away from the mountain’s crater.

NTD Photo
Indonesian rescue members look for victims of Merapi volcano’s eruption in the village of Glagaharjo, in the district of Sleman on Nov. 12, 2010. (Lintang Senja/AFP via Getty Images)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.