Indonesia's Mount Merapi Erupts with River of Lava and Searing Gas Clouds

This was the longest lava flow of Mount Merapi since the local authorities raised the danger level of the volcano in November 2020.

Mount Merapi on Java island, which is Indonesia's most active volcano, erupted on Wednesday, January 27. The eruption caused the release of a river of lava and gas clouds. According to local officials, authorities warned of the risk of lava reaching the roads.

Hanik Humaida, the head of Yogyakarta's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, said that it was Mount Merapi's longest lava flow since the authorities raised the danger level of the volcano in November last year. She said as of now authorities maintained the second-highest alert level.

Mount Merapi volcano spews ash as seen from Kali Tengah
Mount Merapi volcano spews ash Reuters

Warning for Local Residents

Humaida asked local residents to stay out of the existing five-kilometer danger zone around the crater. Meanwhile, the local administration in Indonesia's Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces has been monitoring the situation.

The 2,968-metre volcano is on the densely populated island. It is the most active among the dozens of volcanoes in the country and has repeatedly erupted with lava and gas clouds recently.

The active stratovolcano is located on the border between Central Java and the Special Region of Yogyakarta provinces. Since 1548, the Mount Merapi volcano has erupted regularly. In 2010, the country witnessed the worst eruption of Mount Merapi, as the incident killed more than 300 people. At that time around 280,000 residents were forced to evacuate the surrounding areas.

In May 2018 a series of eruptions produced hot ash columns as high as 5.5 kilometers. An eruption in 1994 killed almost 60 people, while another incident in 1930 took around 1,300 lives.

Being located on the Pacific Ring of Fire—an area with maximum tectonic activity—along with the volcanic eruptions, the Southeast Asian country has to cope with the constant risk, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

The country also has the most active volcanos in the world. There are 147 volcanos and 76 out of them are active volcanos. All of them are spread along with the islands of Sumatra, Java, Celebes and Lesser Sunda.