Yogyakarta. Mount Merapi erupted yet again at about 8 a.m. local time on Friday. There were no reports of injuries.
Indonesia’s most active volcano was spewing clouds of ash and lava on Friday after a series of eruptions this week that left at least 34 people dead.
Government volcanologists said that the activity was not a fresh eruption and could help to stabilize Mount Merapi following Tuesday’s killer eruptions.
“It shot heat clouds at 6:10 a.m., as far as 3.5 kilometers down its southeastern slopes and followed this with ash rain,” volcanologist Heru Suparwoko told AFP. “It’s definitely dangerous for anyone who might be in the path of the heat clouds.”
The area was evacuated on Monday after Indonesian authorities issued a red alert, but some people may have stayed or returned to tend their livestock and check on their homes.
Another volcanologist, Surono, said that the volcano on the central island of Java, whose name translates as the “Mountain of Fire,” also released lava for the first time since its latest round of activity began.
“It’s a good development as there won’t be an accumulation of energy which will cause a massive eruption like on Tuesday,” he said.
More than 50,000 people are living in cramped temporary shelters near the city of Yogyakarta after being ordered to evacuate.
Earlier, there was concern about the fate of Yogyakarta Police Chief Brig. Gen. Ondang Sutarsa and his group of men who went up the volcano top shortly before the eruption. Officials had tried to warn him against conducting such inspection, saying that it was too risky.
“Please let me do my job. I have to see for myself that the villagers are safe,” Ondang said.
At 10 a.m., Ondang returned unharmed and continued his journey to monitor other villages around the volcano.
The Yogyakarta police chief delivered aid to several locals who were still staying at the Kinahrejo hamlet, where the late spiritual gatekeeper of the volcano, Mbah Maridjan (Grandfather Maridjan), used to live and urged them to evacuate their homes and take shelter at the relatively safer Umbulharjo village.
Evacuation barracks at Umbulharjo village are currently considered to be the safest because it is located ten kilometers from the volcano top, even though the area is still affected by volcanic ash.