Fears 'Doomsday' volcano is about to blow as hot smoke spews for miles
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Authorities have expressed concerns that the 'doomsday' volcano is about to blow after it erupted and spewed hot smoke over the surrounding area on Saturday (11 March).
Mount Merapi, located in border between the province of Central Java and the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, is the most active volcano in the country.
It makes up part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped belt around the rim of the Pacific Ocean where volcanic activity and earthquakes are frequent.
Scientists have long feared a doomsday scenario should Merapi have a major eruption, with researchers at the University of Cambridge warning it could cause a volcanic winter on earth and lead to economic collapse.
Concerns were reignited today when the 9,551-foot-high volcano exploded at around 12:00pm local time, causing hot clouds of rock, lava and gas to reach up to seven kilometres from the peak.
Indonesia's Research and Development Center for Geological Disaster Technology (BPPTKG) shared the news, stating that the eruption was still occurring at around 12:30pm.
The agency also observed a lava flow with a sliding distance of over 4,900 feet, and it is monitoring the status of seismicity, the frequency of earthquakes in a region.
Right now, the main risk factors are lava avalanches and hot clouds flowing down from Merapi to rivers including Boyong, Bedog, Krasak and Bebeng.
"The distance is seven kilometres from the peak of Mount Merapi in the Kali Bebeng and Krasak channels," the BPPTKG said in a statement. "Currently the eruption is still ongoing."
As such, the public has been urged not to carry about any activities in potentially hazardous areas and to be wary of ash and lava risks around the volcano site.
BBPTKG also said that if there is a significant change in activity, the status of the volcano will be reviewed immediately.
Reports continue to flood in to the Mount Merapi Observation Post in Babadan as several locations have been hit by ash.
Yulianto, an official at the local monitoring spot, told the agency that the post is 'now definitely affected by volcanic ash', adding: "It's quite thick."
He said there have been no reports of residents fleeing the affected areas, however, and explained that his team and the BBPTKG would instruct when to evacuate should the hot clouds extend further.
"This event has only been observed once. There have been five to six avalanches," said Yulianto.
"If the coverage continues to grow and the distance is further than seven kilometres, it is likely that there will be recommendations for residents to evacuate."
Featured Image Credit: Febri Waspodo//EPA-EFE/Slamet Riyadi/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock
Topics: Environment, World News