Indonesian volcano again erupts and sends ash tower 2km into sky

A volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Java sent a tower of ash rising 2km into the sky, prompting warnings for people living nearby.

Mount Merapi erupted at around 1pm local time on Thursday.

The volcano spewed thick grey clouds of ash that rose nearly 2km above the eastern slope of the mountain, Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency BNPB said in a statement.

Authorities have warned people to stay outside a 4.5km exclusion zone around the volcano due to potential dangers from cold lava flows.

Cold lava flow refers to a stream of ash, sand and pebbles that is carried down a mountain’s slopes by rain.

“People are urged to stay away from river areas that originate from the Merapi volcano and be on alert to the potential dangers of lahar that could occur, particularly when it rains,” BNPB spokesperson Abdul Muhari said, using the local term for cold flow.

Heavy rainfall earlier this month wreaked havoc in a few nearby areas by bringing down cold lava from Marapi.

Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting frequently since the 16th century.

Thousands of people live on the flanks of the volcano, which is located 28km north of Yogyakarta city which is home to 2.4 million people.

Several recent eruptions of the volcano have caused fatalities.

At least 11 mountaineers were killed when Merapi erupted in December 2023 and sent an ash cloud rising 3km into the sky.

In January this year, the volcano emitted a lava flow up to 2km long and a column of hot cloud that rose 100 metres up.