Skip to comments.Thousands Flee Slopes of Indonesia Volcano - Mount Merapi
Posted on 05/13/2006 5:17:51 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia - Thousands of people fled the fertile slopes of Indonesia's most dangerous volcano Saturday as glowing lava oozed down the side and ash and rock spewed from the mountaintop, leading authorities to warn that an eruption could come soon.
Villages on Mount Merapi were left virtually empty. Women, children and the elderly filled buses and trucks to be driven to shelters set up at government buildings and schools in nearby towns on the island of Java.
Throughout the day, volcanic tremors shook the ground, some strong enough to send people running in fear. After nightfall, fiery magma from the volcano's cauldron lit up the bottoms of clouds above the nearly 9,700-foot peak, and cascades of bright red stones tumbled down the mountainside.
Many people already had evacuated from homes closest to Merapi's crater after the volanco recently emerged from several years of relative quiet, but authorities said as many as 7,000 living farther down the slopes had refused to go and leave behind precious livestock and crops.
It wasn't clear how many of those obeyed the government's evacuation order Saturday. Groups of men who sent their families away were seen chatting around fires to keep warm during the night, guarding their homes against looters.
Edi, a 30-year-old villager, said he would stay unless he received a clear signal from the mountain's spirits that an eruption was at hand.
"People around here believe that if Merapi is going to explode there will be a sign, a magical sign," he said, sitting on a mat sipping coffee. "Either it comes in a dream, or in the form of a hallucination."
Although most Indonesians are Muslim, many also follow animist beliefs and worship ancient spirits. Often at full moons, they trek to crater rims and throw in rice, jewelry and live animals to appease the volcanoes.
Merapi, about 250 miles east of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, is one of at least 129 active volcanoes in the country, which lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire" a series of fault lines that feed volcanoes stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and into Southeast Asia.
Merapi last erupted in 1994, sending out a cloud of searing gas that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when it erupted in 1930.
One man who defied the order to evacuate, Baijo, 30, said he was not worried about the risks of staying behind.
"I am not afraid. This is normal. We are looking after the village. If not, thieves will come," he said.
Some farmers said they had not seen any volcanic activity themselves so decided to remain on their land despite being urged to leave by the revered Sultan Sri Hamengkubuwono, who is also the regional governor in Yogyakarta, a city of 1 million people just 11 miles from Merapi.
"We will not leave soon because of our livestock," said one cattle raiser, who declined to give his name.
All roads leading up the mountain were closed as chunks of glowing pumice blew from Merapi's depths into the sky and burning gas fumes wafted through the air.
Authorities put the area on highest alert after observing two days of steady lava flow from the volcano.
"Because there have been constant lava flows that cause hot gases, we have raised the status to the highest level," said Bambang Dwiyanto, head of the region's volcanology center.
Experts recorded 27 volcanic tremors and eruptions of at least 14 plumes of hot ash Saturday, said Dr. Ratdomo Purbo, who heads an observation post at Merapi. He said a stream of lava extended nearly a mile down the mountain's side.
Lava flows from Indonesia's Merapi volcano Saturday May 13, 2006 as seen from Bebung village about 20 km (12 miles) outside Yogyakarta, the provincial capital of Central Java province Indonesia. Officials raised the alert status of the Merapi volcano to the highest level, meaning that an eruption is imminent, and thousands began evacuating from its slopes. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Indonesia's Merapi volcano throws up lava and hot gasses Saturday May 13, 2006, as seen from Bebung village about 20 km (12 miles) outside Yogyakarta, the provincial capital of Central Java province, Indonesia. Thousands fled the slopes of Indonesia's most dangerous volcano Saturday as it spewed burning ash, rock and molten lava, signaling a major eruption is imminent. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Villagers watch hot lava flowing from the Mount Merapi volcano close to Bebeng village near the city of Yogyakarta in central Java, Indonesia May 13, 2006. Indonesia raised the alert status of the Mount Merapi volcano to the highest level on Saturday, prompting a compulsory evacuation of thousands of residents living on the slopes, officials said. REUTERS/Andry Prasetyo
Kool Photos. THNX.
Send them New Orleans Mayor Nagin to manage the evacuation... Please...
He still thinks the reason he failed to evacuate the city is someone else's fault, and he needs another chance to prove he can do it better. (fat chance)
Lava is spilling from Mount Merapi in this photo taken from Bebeng villages in Yogyakarta, central java, Indonesia, Saturday, May 13 2006. Indonesia on Saturday raised the alert at the Merapi volcano to the highest level, meaning an eruption may be imminent, an official said. (AP Photo/ Purwowiyoto)
Could this thing go off like Krakatoa or is more likely to just ooze noxious substances?
"Villages on Mount Merapi were left virtually empty. Women, children and the elderly filled buses and trucks to be driven to shelters set up at government buildings and schools in nearby towns on the island of Java."
They could do it on their own in Indonesia, but New Orleans could not figure it out.
Ya never know, it has done some impressive eruptions previously and has been fairly active but not quite a krakatoa is likely here, I could be wrong tho. :)
An elderly resident of the slopes of Mount Merapi is given a health check at a refugee camp in Sleman. The alert status of Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano has been upgraded to its highest level, an official said, meaning some 34,000 people living in its danger zone face mandatory evacuation.(AFP/File/Bay Ismoyo)
Most likely a Pinatubo scale eruption is all we should expect, at most. Pinatubo brought Alaska a nine-month winter and record snowfall, perhaps some global cooling for a couple of years.
It's exceedingly unlikely to even remotely approach Pinatubo, or even Mt. St. Helens...Merapi erupts a lot, in fairly small eruptions; the only reason it's so dangerous is the immediate vicinity is so densely populatated.
I wouldn't expect the slightest global climate effects at all.
You see the Ecuador volcano acting up? Tungurahua
Ecuador Volcano Shows Signs of Activity
Location: 1.467 S, 78.44 W
Elevation: 16,475 ft. (5023 m)
Tungurahua is an active stratovolcano also known as the "The Black Giant." It has a 600 ft. (183 m) wide crater. Most of the volcano is covered by snow. Its causes many tremors in the nearby city of Banos. Tungurahua's lava is mostly composed of basalts. Tungurahua has had at least seventeen eruptions in historical times, its most recent occurring in 1944 when it erupted explosively from its central crater. Located about 25 miles (~40 km) west of Tungurahua is the largest volcano in Equador, Chimborazo and to the north about 50 miles(~80 km ) is Cotopaxi volcano.
Ah... I'd get out of there... I realize some folks are staying to protect villages from possible looters, but if that thing blows up, there's not going to be any more villages... just more, new real estate.
If they're that close, they could be killed by a pyroclastic flow.
Yep! This is the point. There are simply too many people in the danger zone of this volcano. It doesn't matter that its eruptions are more moderate than Pinatubo, Krakatau or Tambora for those who live on the slopes of Merapi. The "moderate" powers of nature are still dangerous enough to kill them all.
Wonderful pics. Thank you for posting this!
Actually, New Orleans could do with a major volcanic eruption itself ~ maybe get the area ABOVE SEA LEVEL.
Krakatau Volcano blew up August 26, 1883, in Indonesia. An earlier explosion of a predecessor volcano in/about/on/near 538AD probably brought on the Dark Ages.
That's when Java and Sumatra became two islands instead of one.
I guess I am going to have to be the first to point out that this is the fault of George Bush!
Kind of like falling into Kilauea ~ no matter how mid all it's other eruptions, that's gotta' hurt.
some pics of Merapi over the years..
Merapi, Java, Indonesia
It's Pelean not Plinean, right? Something to do with the dome collapsing sideways a bit, but not going up like or sideways like St. Helens?
up like Vesuvius...
And it's so densely populated because the soil is so fertile because of all the volcanic ash acting as fertilizer
Whoa! Buses and trucks used for evacuation of an impending disaster? Who would have thunk it? Perhaps it's such a novel idea, the coastal communites(hear me nagin?) might want to give it a try.