Hundreds evacuated as Indonesia's Merapi threatens to erupt

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) – Indonesian authorities evacuated hundreds of residents living near the country’s most active volcano after raising the alert level earlier this week.

More than 600 people in vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women and children, as well as those with disabilities, were evacuated on Saturday (Nov 7), the National Disaster Management Agency said in a statement.

The evacuation process was carried out according to health protocols with people required to wear masks and maintain a safe distance. All evacuees had to undergo Covid-19 rapid tests and record their health conditions before entering shelters.

Indonesia’s geological disaster agency raised Mount Merapi’s alert status on Thursday to the second-highest level because of increased volcanic activity. The agency warned of potential dangers such as lava avalanches and hot gas clouds that could travel as far as 5km if an explosive eruption occurred.

Mount Merapi has been active and has erupted regularly since 1548. Its last major eruption in 2010 killed more than 300 people. Indonesia, a vast archipelago with a population of 270 million, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity as the nation sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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