Yogyakarta. Geologists have confirmed that Mount Merapi’s eruption early on Saturday morning was its biggest this week, spreading ashfall all the way to Yogyakarta, some 30 kilometers away.
Sri Sumarti, the Merapi section head at the Volcano Investigation and Technology Development Institution (BPPTK), said the eruption at about 1 a.m. was louder and stronger than the initial one on Tuesday, which left more than 30 people dead.
It lasted for 22 minutes and sent heat clouds flowing down into the Krasak and Boyong Rivers.
“Our officers at the observation stations reported hearing explosive eruptions twice,” she said. “The heat clouds shot 3.5 kilometers into the air, westward toward Magelang, much higher than the 1.5 kilometers on Tuesday,” she said.
The eruption caused panic on the ash-covered streets of Sleman district in Yogyakarta, well outside the immediate disaster zone. The situation calmed down by about 3 a.m. Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto Airport was temporarily closed from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
But Surono, the head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG), assured that the deadly superheated clouds would not reach the outer ring of the disaster zone.
No new casualties have been reported, though media reports say some residents from Magelang have been taken to the hospital due to shock.
More eruptions are predicted and geologists warned people to remain alert.
“We predict that Mount Merapi will erupt again because there is still a lot of magma that will push its way up to the crater,” said Subandrio, head of the Volcano Investigation and Technology Development Institution (BPPTK).
Surono called on all citizens of Yogyakarta to not panic. “Stay calm and wear a mask. Mount Merapi will cough again. Panicking would only could cause injuries,” he told the Globe.