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Mt. Merapi Update

Fearing Major Eruption, Officials Prepare for Emergency Evacuation Around Central Javanese Mountain. Mountain Poses No Threat to Far Away Bali.


As reported on [Alert Issued for Central Java Merapi Volcano], Indonesiaís Directorate General for Vulcanology (BPPTK) issued on April 12, 2006 a "Level 3" warning covering an 8 kilometer radius around Central Java's 9,737 foot-high Mount Merapi. This is the second-highest warning level possible, currently rendering Merapi the world's most active volcano.

Located 25 kilometers north of the Central Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Merapi is more than 530 kilometers from Bali's capital of Denpasar.

While no one can be certain when, or even if, there will be a cataclysmic eruption of the mountain, smoke and seismic disturbances have been recorded almost continuously since April 12th when the warning level was heightened. Coordinated evacuation and rescue teams involving the Indonesian Red Cross military, police, local government agencies and other agencies have been put in place and are on a high level of alert near the mountain.

Mt. Merapi Map

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

United Nations - 19 April 2006
[Click to enlarge]

As shown on, four districts located on the slopes of Mt. Merapi, namely Boyolali, Magelang, Klaten and Sleman are thretaened by the volcano. These districts are home to an estimate population exceeding 70,000 people.

Mt. Merapi's last major eruption in 1994 caused 43 deaths.

Four Scenarios

In its current contingency planning, the Government is looking at four distinct scenarios should a major eruption take place:

1) A normal eruption to the northwest of the volcano with relatively minimal risk to surrounding populations.

2) An eruption to the north of the volcano with a somewhat more elevated risk to surrounding areas.

3) An eruption to the south, which would represent a high risk situation, resulting in the possible displacement of 70,000 people.

4) A worst case scenario of a massive explosion from the peak of the volcano that would result in multi-directional lava flows and millions of cubic meters of ash and molten material being ejected into the atmosphere to eventually descend on surrounding areas.

Current disaster planning is focused on preparedness in the event of the third scenario with emergency supplies and transportation already on stand by.

On April 18th the observation posts at Mr. Merapi reported 113 multi-phase tremors, 8 streams of lava, 7 volcanic tremors and sulfur dioxide clouds emitting to a height of 400 meters from the crater. Scientists are pointing the high level of continuous activity as clear indications that an eruption of the mountain is increasingly imminent.

The Indonesian Red Cross has mobilized equipment and staff in anticipation of an eruption. 8 platoon tents, 20,000 masks and two-day emergency food packets for 20,000 people are now in position near the mountain. 100 volunteers are also standing by to establish 12 field-kitchens. Meanwhile the Department of Social Affairs has allocated Rp. 400 million (approximately US$44,500) for the coming three months and sent 100 tons of rice, 1,000 boxes of instant noodles, 20 tents, and 50 folding beds to the scene.

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