Mount Merapi volcano erupted on Wednesday with more force than last week’s blasts that killed 36 people, spewing huge clouds of searing gas into the sky, scientists said.
Witnesses said lava and burning rocks were also shooting from the crater of the 2,914-metre mountain, sparking fresh panic among nearby residents who have been living in fear of the volcano for more than a week.
“The eruption is still going. This is the bigger than the previous two,” government volcanologist Subandrio said, referring to eruptions on October 26 and 30.
Officials expanded the danger zone around Mount Merapi as the volcano in Central Java erupted again on Wednesday, ordering people living closer than 15 kilometres to evacuate, officials said.
“We’ve decided to widen the danger zone to 15 kilometres, the refugee camps must be moved outside the zone,” volcanologist Surono said.
The previous exclusion zone radiated 10 kilometres from the volcano. Around 75,000 people have evacuated the area since last Tuesday, when Merapi started its latest series of eruptions.
“It’s the biggest eruption and it’s been happening for almost two hours, since 2:27pm,” Surono added.
“This is the most extraordinary, the biggest,” he added.