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Updated: October 29, 2010 13:55 IST

Indonesia’s Merapi volcano erupts again

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Foreign tourists watch as Mount Merapi spews volcanic materials into the air in Pakem, Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Friday.
Foreign tourists watch as Mount Merapi spews volcanic materials into the air in Pakem, Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Friday.

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi spewed hot ash and lava on Friday, three days after an eruption killed 34 people, rescue workers and residents said.

“This morning Merapi emitted hot clouds as far as 3 kilometres down its slope,” said Widi Sutikno, head of the local disaster relief operation.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, he said.

Some villagers who defied orders to stay in government-run emergency shelters and returned to their fields to work scrambled to escape searing ash from the volcano.

“I was cutting grass to feed my cattle when I heard a thunderous sound, louder than the previous eruptions” said Kastomo, a 50-year-old resident of Umbulharjo village.

“Thank God I managed to flee to safety,” he said.

Darsis, 47, said she was worried about her husband, who went up to work in his field early in the day but had not returned to the shelter.

“We didn’t think there would be another eruption,” she said, looking distraught. “I hope he’s safe.” The National Disaster Management Agency said 34 people were killed in Tuesday’s eruption, the first since 2006 when clouds of hot gas burned two rescue workers to death as they were seeking refuge in a bunker.

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

Jets of hot volcanic debris burned trees, crops and livestock and covered entire neighbourhoods in grey ash.

The 2,968-metre volcano, located about 500 kilometres south-east of Jakarta, last erupted in 2006, killing two people.

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.

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.

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