Jakarta. Following increased volcanic activity of Central Java’s Mount Merapi, the chief of the national park that surrounds it said on Sunday that routes to the summit had been closed.
The volcano, which also extends into Yogyakarta province, has displayed a significant increase in seismic activity over the past week, with multiphase earthquakes increasing from a normal average of five times per day to 38 times per day.
Volcanic earthquakes are also up from the normal average of once per day to 11 per day.
“I ordered my officers at guard posts at the foot of Mount Merapi to ban climbers from coming into the park. I shall issue a formal ban myself on Monday,” Tri Prasetyo, chief of Mount Merapi National Park, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.
Tri said the alert status had been increased on Friday from “normal” to “beware” by the Volcano Investigation and Technology Development Institution (BPPTK).
“Shortly after the authorities raised the alert status and issued the latest report on Mount Merapi’s activities, I stopped issuing permits for climbers,” Tri said. “Landslides and mudflows of volcanic material [remaining from previous eruptions] could easily kill someone.”
Three sand miners were killed and two others seriously injured on the volcano on Saturday morning after a landslide buried them at an illegal sand mining site near Balerante village, Klaten, Central Java.
“We are still investigating the cause of the landslide, but we have banned sand mining activities on the slopes of Mount Merapi. We suspect a landslide due to heavy rain,” said Adj. Comr. Agus Djaka Santosa, the Klaten Police chief.
On Friday, Sri Sumarti, Mount Merapi section head at BPPTK in Yogyakarta, said the status was raised to beware, just three rungs below full eruption status.
“We are appealing mainly to sand miners operating within sever kilometers of the crater,” she said.
“The rainfall is high enough to cause flash floods of [old] volcanic material that are very dangerous.”
Sri warned that material could be washed down the volcano’s slopes by heavy rain.
Agus urged people not to disturb wild animals descending following volcanic activity.
Apes and green peafowl were reported to have started to come down the mountain.