- Title: INDONESIA: Merapi volcano spews steam and hot ash.
- Date: 15th May 2006
- Summary: WIDE SHOT RESIDENTS BEING EVACUATED, SOME COVERING THEIR MOUTHS WITH CLOTH; VILLAGERS WALKING AWAY FROM VOLCANO WITH BELONGINGS; VILLAGERS BOARDING TRUCK AND TRUCK DRIVING AWAY; WOMAN WORKING IN FIELD WITH VOLCANO IN BACKGROUND (6 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 30th May 2006 13:00
- Location: Indonesia
- Country: Indonesia
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAAFX7IU63K3GGWCDSWAYMUO9LG
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano spewed hot clouds and ash rain early on Monday (May 15, 2006) but volcanologists said they were not sure if the volcano had erupted as there was no confirmation of reports of fresh lava flows, only clouds and hot ash rains.
Neither are new since activity picked up in recent weeks on Merapi, one of the most menacing volcanoes in the Pacific "Ring of Fire". But officials said it was the biggest pile of clouds seen so far which were billowing out of the crater for four kilometres (2.5 miles).
Ash rain fell on some parts of the mountain slopes but had not reached populated areas.
Indonesia raised the alert status of Merapi to the highest level, also known as code red or danger status, on Saturday (May 13), although experts said they could not predict when it would erupt.
Senior government volcanologist Ahmad Dali of the volcanology co-ordinating centre in Bandung said an eruption of the volcano would be defined as volcanic material being ejected straight into the sky to a substantial height.
Thick clouds of charcoal grey smoke billowed periodically from the crater on Sunday (May 14), but there were no visible signs of lava flowing, as it already has on several occasions in recent days.
The top alert level for the mountain means residents can be forced to evacuate, and authorities moved more than 5,000 people living near the volcano to shelters in safe areas after the new alert level.
But some still have refused to leave their homes while others who have continue to return during the days to tend livestock, collect grass, or otherwise carry on their routines.
Indonesia, which has the world's highest density of volcanoes, has been struggling to conduct mass evacuation as many residents would rather rely on natural signs than official orders.
Residents say signals would include lightning around the mountain's peak or animals moving down its slopes.
Officials put the total number of residents on and near the mountain at around 14,000.
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