Indonesia’s Mount Merapi spewed hot ash early on Saturday in a new eruption, sending residents fleeing to safety, officials said.

Two people were killed in an accident when villagers in the Pakem area scrambled to escape volcanic debris, said Trisno Heru Nugoro, a spokesman for the Sardjito hospital.

Television footage showed rescue workers forcibly carrying an elderly woman as she resisted the evacuation kicking and screaming.

The volcano erupted just after midnight for 21 minutes, said Surono, head of the Centre for Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.

“We have been unable to determine how far the hot clouds travelled because it was very dark,” he said.

The volcano erupted for the first time in four years on Tuesday, killing 36 people and injuring dozens of others. Since then it has erupted three times.

The state Antara news agency reported that dust from the latest eruption blanketed much of the central Java city of Yogyakarta, about 30 kilometres south of the volcano.

Residents living near the cone heard loud explosions, prompting them to flee their homes in panic, Antara said.

The airport in Yogyakarta was closed for an hour to allow workers to clear the ash from the runway, an airport official said.

Some residents ignored official warnings to stay outside the 10-kilometre danger zone, fearing for the safety of their property.

This week’s eruptions occurred after authorities upgraded the volcano’s danger alert status to its highest level on Monday.

Searing volcanic debris burned trees, crops and livestock and blanketed nearby areas in grey ash.

The 2,968-metre volcano is located about 500 kilometres south-east of Jakarta. Its most deadly eruption on record occurred in 1930 when 1,370 people were killed. At least 66 people were killed in a 1994 eruption and two people were killed in 2006.

Indonesia has the highest density of volcanoes in the world with about 500 in the 5,000-kilometre-long archipelago nation. Nearly 130 are active, and 68 are listed as dangerous.