JAKARTA • The Indonesian authorities raised the alert status for Mount Merapi on Thursday due to increasing volcanic activity which could lead to an eruption and in turn could affect nearby residential areas in Yogyakarta and Central Java.
The volcano's status has been increased to siaga (watch), or level three of the country's four-tiered alert system, from level two waspada (advisory) previously.
The Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Centre (BPPTKG) said the potential danger would be lava erupting and volcanic material and hot ash clouds spewing as far as 5km.
Affected areas could include Cangkringan district in Sleman regency, Yogyakarta and Dukun district in Magelang among others.
The BPPTKG urged for a halt in mining activities in rivers located within Disaster-Prone Area (KRB) III - or areas within a 3km radius of the volcano's peak - and called for tourism activities in the areas, including hiking to the top of Mount Merapi, to be suspended.
BPPTKG Yogyakarta head Hanik Humaida said Mount Merapi may experience an effusive eruption, meaning melting incandescent lava would steadily flow down the slopes of the volcano. However, it was possible for an explosive eruption to occur, in which the magma extrusion process would happen rapidly.
The BPPTKG has improved its broadcasting system, which will be launched soon.
Sleman Disaster Mitigation Agency emergency and logistics division head Makwan said they had prepared a mitigation scenario for an eruption. adding that there are evacuation barracks ready with supporting evacuation routes.
Mount Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. An eruption in 2010 killed over 300 people. It has continued rumbling, spewing ash and volcanic material in eruptions over the past decade.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK