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Indonesia downgrades Mount Merapi alert (from 'beware' to 'standby')
AFP on Yahoo ^ | 6/13/06 | Bhimanto Suwastoyo

Posted on 06/13/2006 9:02:04 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

MOUNT MERAPI (AFP) - Indonesia has downgraded its top alert on Mount Merapi volcano as scientists said they no longer believe an eruption is imminent.

Merapi -- whose name means "Mountain of Fire" -- was put on red alert on May 13 and its activity has fluctuated since then. It has declined substantially since Friday when part of a lava dome forming at its peak collapsed.

"The activity status of Merapi is downgraded from 'beware' to 'standby' as of June 13, 2006, at 11:00 am," said Yousana Siagian, head of the vulcanology office in West Java's Bandung, in a statement.

"With a depression in the lava dome... the risk has become small that a large-scale cloud will be emitted," the office said, referring to the searing clouds that are typical of a Merapi eruption.

Those clouds which have been emitted from Merapi's peak as well as its blazing lava flows had decreased in number and in the distance they travel since the volcano's last major belching of clouds Friday, the office said.

In the first six hours of Tuesday the volcano released only one observable cloud that reached 1.5 kilometers (less than one mile), plus 60 lava torrents. The longest of these travelled three kilometres.

On Friday the clouds, which burn everything in their path, reached five kilometers (three miles) down the slope of the volcano, the farthest distance reached during the heightened alert. They did not reach inhabited areas.

The partial collapse of the dome caused Merapi to lose around one third of the lava and volcanic material accumulated at its peak and has made the structure more stable, scientists have said.

The vulcanology office recommended that the districts surrounding Merapi send home some 15,000 people evacuated from the danger zone and still sheltering in makeshift camps as of early Tuesday.

But Officials at disaster management centers in the districts told AFP late Tuesday that they had either not yet received official notification of the downgrading or had not yet acted on it.

"We have heard it, but so far we have received no official notification," said Suharto from the disaster management center in Magelang, a town west of Merapi where the vast majority of evacuees are staying.

Merapi's deadliest eruption occurred in 1930 when more than 1,300 people were killed.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: alert; downgrades; indonesia; merapi; mount; ringoffire

A woman pushes a cart as the Mount Merapi volcano is seen emitting smoke. Indonesia has downgraded its top alert on Mount Merapi volcano as scientists said they no longer believe an eruption is imminent.(AFP/Tarko Sudiarno)

Thick smoke is spewed from Mount Merapi volcano as seen from Deles village, outside the district of Klaten, central Java on June 13, 2006. REUTERS/Supri

1 posted on 06/13/2006 9:02:06 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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