Indonesia's Mount Merapi Volcano Erupts, Spitting Lava Streams and Ash Clouds

Mount Merapi, considered the most active volcano of Indonesia, erupted in the early morning of Monday, venting a smog of ash caused by the flow of red lava down the crater.

Reports stated that the lava flow was the biggest in recent months and several villages and nearby towns were blanketed with grey ash as the volcanic eruptions emitted intense smoke as far as 3.5km. There haven't been any casualties reported and no evacuation orders have been placed yet.

St Vincent Volcano Eruption
Instagram grab / Nikononimous via Saint Vincent and The Grenadines

Merapi - The One Making Fire

Merapi, which means "the one making fire", is situated on Java island, close to Yogyakarta, Indonesia's cultural capital. As per data, it has erupted regularly since 1548 and is feared for its deadly pyroclastic flows, falls of hot rocks, and gas. It is believed that the loud rumbling sound of the volcano could be heard to several miles. Authorities have claimed that Merapi has been active in the last few months and a severe threat was feared since November 2020.

According to Hanik Humaida, the head of Yogyakarta's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, the lava crater has been active since the end of July. On the early morning of August 16, the rim of the crater collapsed partially and streams of lava flowed down its slopes on the island of Java. People have been advised to stay 5 kilometers away from the area and seek assistance in case of any potential danger.

The agency had reported increased volcanic activity in the past week, yet no danger alerts were issued, reports said.

Kilauea volcano
Scientists studied the olivine crystals that formed in the cooled lava that flowed from Kilauea's 1959 eruption USGS/ Stanford University

Indonesia has around 130 active volcanoes, Mount Merapi being the most active and powerful one. Its eruption in 1930 claimed 1,300 lives, and another one in 1994 took 60 lives. The last fatal eruption in 2010 took more than 300 lives, and thousands of residents were forced to evacuate the area and move to safer grounds.

It is said that Indonesia, with a population of 270 million, frequently experiences natural calamities like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where the Indo-Australian Plate and the Eurasian Plate, known as tectonic plates, collide.