A volcanic eruption on Indonesia’s Mount Merapi churned and boiled on Monday, sending ash and flows of lava down its slopes for a second day.
Pyroclastic flows – avalanches of rock, ash and volcanic gas – burst from the mountain’s actively growing lava dome inside the crater.
The 2,968-metre peak is near Yogyakarta, an ancient city embedded in a large metro area on the island of Java and home to hundreds of thousands of people. The city is a centre of Javanese culture and a seat of royal dynasties going back centuries.
Mount Merapi’s previous major eruption was in 2010 and killed 347 people. Villagers living on Merapi’s fertile slopes have been advised to stay five kilometres from the mouth of the crater.
Hanik Humaida, head of Yogyakarta’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre, said the lava dome had been partially collapsing since Sunday, when the latest eruption began. The initial blast sent hot ash 1,000 metres into the atmosphere.
The mountain spewed at least three new pyroclastic flows on Monday, Ms Humaida said.
Mount Merapi is the most volatile of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, and Ms Humaida said it was one of the most active worldwide. She said it was common for eruptions to last several days.
The centre has not raised Merapi’s alert status this week. It has been at the second highest of four levels since the mountain began erupting last November.
Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines on the fringe of the Pacific basin.