Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Merapi eruptions slowing down but still deadly

November 13, 2010

Mount Merapi volcano continued spewing hot gas ash but not as violently as before. But the death toll continues to climb as people succumb to their injuries.

Mount Merapi spews volcanic material as seen from Argomulyo, Indonesia, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

The Jakarta Globe now puts the toll at 240 lives:

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano has killed 240 people since it began erupting late last month, with more than 390,000 people in makeshift camps, an official said. That figure continues to rise as people with severe burns die from their wounds and officials count those who have died from respiratory problems, heart attacks and other illnesses related to the blasts.

In addition, search operations continue for bodies buried under a thick layer of ash that shrouds whole villages. On Friday, soldiers pulled eight more bodies from around one hard-hit village, said Waluyo Rahardjo, who works for the search and rescue agency.

The Associated Press reports:

Ash has continuously shot out of the crater since it roared to life Oct. 26, occasionally canceling international flights into and out of Jakarta, hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the volcano’s west. After the output slowed overnight, an advisory from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Darwin, Australia, showed the ash patch was well clear of the capital. The airport in Yogyakarta, at the foot of the mountain, however, remained closed.

Officials warned residents that less ash does not mean the volcano is finished.

“The activity of Merapi is still high, but the intensity of eruptions is reducing now. But people still should be careful. Merapi is still on high alert,” said Surano, a state volcanologist who uses only one name.

While officials struggle to persuade hundreds of thousands of people who live on the volcano’s fertile slopes not to return to their homes, a new kind of evacuee has been seen in recent days. Villagers checking on their homes and crops have seen Javan leopards — who live in a national park near the crater — heading down the mountain.

The cats likely feel the continuing tremors, said Tri Prasetyo, who runs the park, and are seeking safer ground. It’s also possible that prey is scarce in areas scorched by searing gases.

Aceng , a Java leopard, released back into the wild. Credit IAR

The Javan leopard — a subspecies of the cat only found on the island of Java — is critically endangered, with no more than 250 left in the wild. Some put the total population as low as 50.

Joko Tirtono, the manager of a zoo in Yogyakarta, said zoo keepers are now searching villages where the leopards have been spotted and laying traps in which they hope to capture the cats alive.

Mount Merapi eruption images from Nasa

November 11, 2010

The steep-sided, cone-shaped Mount Merapi volcano is both boon and curse to the people of Indonesia. Volcanic ash from its frequent eruptions makes the soil fertile enough to support a large population. It is also one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, posing a constant threat to tens of thousands of people who live in its shadow. On October 26, 2010, the volcano once again turned destructive, unleashing a series of eruptions that had killed at least 44 people and forced 75,000 people from their homes, said CNN on November 4.

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia: Nov 1st: image NASA


The mountain has been shrouded in clouds throughout the eruption, but on October 30 the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the thermal signature of hot ash and rock and a glowing lava dome. The thermal data is overlaid on a three-dimensional map of the volcano to show the approximate location of the flow. The three-dimensional data is from a global topographic model created using ASTER stereo observations.

The Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation reported that two pyroclastic flows moved down the volcano on October 30. A pyroclastic flow is an avalanche of extremely hot gas, ash, and rock that tears down the side of a volcano at high speeds. ASTER imaged one of those flows.

Merapi shows no signs of slowing. After several days of eruptive episodes, the volcano began an eruption on November 3 that was five times more intense than on October 26 and lasted more than 24 hours. It is the most violent eruption at the volcano since the 1870s, said local geologists.

See more NASA images at:

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia

SO2 cloud from Mt. Merapi: 4th November: image NASA

Eruption at Mount Merapi, Indonesia

Ash plume from Mt. Merapi 8th Nov: image NASA


New Merapi ash forces Obama to curtail visit, causes more flight cancellations

November 10, 2010

President Obama will cut short his visit to Indonesia by two hours to be able to meet a take-off window created by further ash eruptions from Mount Merapi volcano (431 km from Jakarta) last night and today. Some international flights to Jakarta on Wednesday and Thursday have been cancelled.

The Jakarta Globe.

Mount Merapi erupting again on Wednesday. Four airlines, including Qantas and Malaysia Air, have canceled flights to Jakarta. Some international flights to Bali have also been affected. (EPA Photo)

Mount Merapi erupting again on Wednesday. Four airlines, including Qantas and Malaysia Air, have canceled flights to Jakarta. Some international flights to Bali have also been affected. (EPA Photo)

Indonesia’s Merapi volcano has forced a number of international airlines to cancel flights over concerns about air safety. The volcanic eruptions in central Java also forced United States President Barack Obama to cut short his visit to the country. Obama sliced several hours off his whirlwind 24-hour tour Wednesday.

Mount Merapi, hundreds of kilometers east of Jakarta, has been spewing massive clouds of ash and gas high into the air for more than two weeks, killing at least 153 people and causing travel chaos and forcing two nearby airports to shut down. Syaiful Bahri, who oversees operations at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, says that concerns about the ash also forced several international carriers to again cancel flights into and out of the capital. Among them were Cathay Pacific, Value Air, Qantas and Malaysia Air.
An Indonesian government volcanologist said the pace of the eruption had slowed, but Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Australia’s Qantas canceled flights because of the ash. Cathay said it had canceled flights to and from Jakarta on Wednesday and Thursday, while Qantas canceled a Sydney-Jakarta service on Wednesday. “Cathay Pacific will monitor and assess the situation and the possibility of operating flights,” the airline said on its website Wednesday. Jetstar, the low-cost offshoot of Qantas, has also changed its flight schedule for services to the Indonesian island of Bali, canceling flights that arrive at or depart from the popular holiday destination at night.
Officials said safety worries about the ash also meant Yogyakarta airport would stay closed until Monday next week at the earliest.

Mount Merapi rumbles on while Anak Krakatau crater expands and Obama flies in to Jakarta

November 9, 2010
A closer look at Anak Krakatau

Anak Krakatau: Image via Wikipedia

Yogyakarta’s Adi Sutjipto domestic and international airport has been closed until at least next Monday Nov. 15, at which time another decision would be made. Despite the ban on civilian and commercial flights in and out of Yogyakarta, the Indonesian Air Force was still operating Hercules flights to deliver aid to the internally displaced.
More than 300,000 people are believed to be housed in government shelters.

Indonesian rescue workers resumed efforts to retrieve bodies of victims from an eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java on Nov. 5, after surface temperatures forced a halt to the search on Monday. More than 320,000 people are housed at evacuation centers outside the 20-kilometer safety zone in four regencies in Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces, the National Disaster Management Agency said in a statement on its Web site today. Evacuees reached 280,000 people yesterday.

“Volcanic activity is relatively stable this morning compared with yesterday,” said Oka Hamid, a spokesman at Red Cross Indonesia’s Yogyakarta branch. “We recovered two remains in one village but we have to leave another four as the field is hard to reach and they’re all covered with thick ash.”

Meanwhile –

The crater of Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait has expanded to a diameter of 25-26 meters, an Indonesian volcanologist says. The news comes as the frequency of eruptions of the volcano, once misidentified as Krakatoa, increases: On Friday there were 615 eruptions, on Saturday 623 eruptions, and on Sunday 668.
Anton S Pambudi, a official from Banten province monitoring the eruptions, said the eruptions over the past two weeks had changed the shape of the crater. Authorities have warned that several other volcanoes in Indonesia are showing increased signs of activity. These include Mount Karangetang on Siau Island in North Sulawesi and Mount Ibu on Halmahera Island in North Maluku.

Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah said she believed that Anak Krakatau did not pose a threat and that the eruptions, which can be seen from the western tip of Java Island, were interesting to observe.

Philippine Airlines Inc., Emirates, Eva Airways Corp. and Valuair Ltd. resumed flights to Jakarta on Monday after suspending them for two days, PT Angkasa Pura, the Soekarno-Hatta international airport operator said on its Web site. Singapore Airlines Ltd., Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and Japan Airlines Corp. restarted services on Sunday.

President Obama arrives in a few hours in Jakarta.

Merapi: Residents flee Yogyakarta but flights resume to Jakarta

November 8, 2010


Mt. Merapi hazard map: image


Yogyakarta lies some 35 km from Mount Merapi but one of the “hazard” tongues from the volcano (see map above) leads directly to the city.

The Jakarta Globe reports:

Frightened residents in a bustling city of 400,000 at the foot of Indonesia’s rumbling volcano headed out of town Monday, cramming onto trains and buses and even rented vehicles to seek refuge with family and friends far away.

Mount Merapi, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has erupted many times in the last century, killing more than 1,400. But Friday was the mountain’s deadliest day since 1930, with nearly 100 lives lost. The notoriously unpredictable mountain unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century Friday, sending hot clouds of gas, rocks and debris avalanching down its slopes at highway speeds, smothering entire villages and leaving a trail of charred corpses in its path.

All (international flights) were back in the air Monday and White House officials said Obama was still scheduled to touch down on Tuesday.

Merapi, meanwhile, showed few signs of tiring Monday, sending out thunderous claps as it shot clouds of gas and debris high into the air.
The Indonesian government has put Yogyakarta on high alert. Though there have been no orders to evacuate, many residents decided to go on their own.

Borobodur Temple covered by Merapi volcano ash

November 7, 2010


Borobudur temple view from northeast plateau, ...

Borobudur Temple: Image via Wikipedia


Update from CNN:

The death toll from recent eruptions at Indonesia’s Mount Merapi continues to rise as the volcano spewed hot ash clouds and gas on Sunday. At least 156 people have died since Merapi started erupting on October 26. Ash columns reached as high as 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), according to the Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency.

The Borobudur temple lies about 45 km from Mount Merapi and is currently covered with ash which is being painstakingly cleared.

Employees of Borobudur temple on Sunday were working to keep the historic site from being damaged by the thick black ash that has fallen from nearby Mount Merapi’s eruption.

Karyono, a parking lot employee who has been working there since 1986, was taking the ash off the driveway and the parking lot. Using a small iron shovel, he and his 10 coworkers were squatting and painstakingly taking the ash away in buckets.Karyono said that he has been cleaning since Saturday and piling up the ashes to be dumped elsewhere.

While the cleanup operation continues, the famous temple is closed to visitors from Nov. 5 to 9.

Mount Merapi unleashed nearly 50 million cubic meters of gas, rocks and ash on Friday, its most powerful eruption in a century.

Up to 138 people have now died on Merapi’s slopes in the past ten days of eruptions and gas cloud ash emissions.

Authorities charged with conserving the temple say that

ash up to 3-centimetres deep has covered it and the acidity could erode the temple’s stones. They believe that if the ash it is not cleared away quickly it will accelerate the decay of the stones. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa. The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). During the journey the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades. Officials however confirm that over the next few days they will be conducting a technical evaluation for the cleaning process. The temple was again closed down for visitors temporarily after volcanic ash covered it following the Merapi volcano’s powerful eruptions on Friday. When the cleanup is completed visitors will be allowed to visit the site early next week – but they will still not be permitted to climb up to the temple.

Evidence suggests Borobudur was abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms in Java, and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, following which the monument was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is still used for pilgrimage; once a year Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument. Borobudur remains Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction.

Since Borobudur was built sometime in the 9th Century it has probably seen – and survived – over one hundred eruptions from Mount Merapi in the following 1200 years. Mount Merapi is Indonesia’s most active volcano and has certainly been erupting regularly at least since 8000 BC. Since 1548 written eruption records are available but earlier eruptions are inferred.


Mount Merapi as seen from Borobudur: image



Mount Merapi ash cloud leads to cancellation of flights to Jakarta

November 6, 2010

Mount Merapi volcano lies 431 km from Jakarta. But the continuing eruptions over the last two weeks have pumped sufficient ash sufficiently high into the atmosphere that flights to Jakarta are beginning to be cancelled. Flights to Yogyakarta, the nearest large airport to Mount Merapi, were suspended a few days ago.

The Guardian reports:

Several airlines have suspended flights into Indonesia’s capital Jakarta after Mount Merapi’s worst eruption in a century spewed volcanic ash up to five miles (8km) into the air.

The move came as number of people killed by Mount Merapi in the last two weeks climbed to 138 after the volcano unleashed a surge of searing gas yesterday that torched houses and trees and incinerated villagers.

Officials at Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and AirAsia fear the ash is a safety threat and could damage aircraft.

“The volcanic ash presence in the airways surrounding Jakarta could cause severe damage to our aircraft and engines which could impair the safety of our operations including passengers and crew,” said Azharuddin Osman, director of operations for Malaysia Airlines.


mt merapi erupting

Lightning strikes as Mount Merapi volcano erupted today, spewing out towering clouds of hot gas and debris, as seen from Ketep village in Magelang, Indonesia's Central Java province. Photograph: Beawiharta/Reuters



Mt. Merapi eruptions continue into second week

November 5, 2010

AFP reports:

Merapi eruption

ARGOMULYO, Indonesia: At least 49 people were killed and scores injured Friday when Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupted again, incinerating villages as far as 18 kilometres (11 miles) away, officials said. The latest deaths bring the total toll to more than 90 since the country’s most active volcano started erupting on October 26. Ash, deadly heat clouds and molten debris gushed from the mouth of the 2,914-metre (9,616-foot) mountain and shot high into the sky for most of the night and into the morning.

The ranks of evacuees swelled past 100,000 people, with 30,000 moved into a sports stadium about 25 kilometres away from the peak. “The emergency shelters are now overcrowded,” emergency response field coordinator Widi Sutikno said.

The international airport at Yogyakarta was closed as ash clouds billowed to the altitude of cruising jetliners and the runway was covered in gray soot, officials said. The exclusion zone was widened from 15 to 20 kilometres around the mountain and everyone living in the area was ordered to evacuate their homes and shelters immediately, he said. Indonesia’s transport ministry has told pilots to stay at least 12 kilometres away from the rumbling volcano and several flights linking central Java to Singapore and Malaysia have been cancelled this week.

Government volcanologist Surono said Friday’s blasts were the largest yet.

Mt. Merapi: map credit

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