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Indonesian 'Mountain Of Fire' Erupts Again

Lava flows down from the crater of Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, as seen from Tunggul Arum in the city of Turi near Yogyakarta early Saturday.
Lava flows down from the crater of Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, as seen from Tunggul Arum in the city of Turi near Yogyakarta early Saturday.

Indonesian officials are monitoring the country's most active volcano after it erupted again Saturday morning, launching hot ash clouds high into the air, and sending lava spewing down the side of the mountain.

Ash plumes shot more than 600 feet into the air as volcanic debris spilled down the slopes of Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta on the densely populated Indonesian island of Java, about 250 miles east of Jakarta. The name "Merapi" loosely translates to "Mountain of Fire."

The volcano erupted hot clouds of ash at least eight times, and sent several pyroclastic flows down its slopes, according to the Indonesia's Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation. No injuries were reported, but local officials are cautioning of more activity to come. The volcano has erupted regularly for hundreds of years.

Based on observations of the volcano begun in early November, "it is concluded that the volcanic activity of Mount Merapi is still quite high in the form of effusive eruptions," said Raditya Jati of the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management. "Effusive" eruptions are those in which lava steadily flows onto the ground.

But the more cataclysmic "explosive" eruptions are still likely, Jati said, with the potential for erupting volcanic material up to about 2 miles from the summit. Lava avalanches and hot clouds could reach more than 3 miles to the southwest.

Mining companies have been advised to temporarily suspend work in the river that originates at Mount Merapi, and tourism companies have been asked to temporarily stay away from "areas of potential danger and crater openings" up to 3 miles away.

"Always be aware of the dangers of lava, especially when it rains around Mount Merapi," Jati said.

The last major eruption of Mount Merapi, in 2010, killed over 300 people.

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