JAKARTA, Indonesia - On Friday, authorities in Indonesia ordered residents around one of the country’s most active volcanos to evacuate the area as Mount Merapi volcano erupted.
The 5,500 meter volcano, which is located on the densely populated Java island, erupted on Friday, sending a column of steam and ash into the sky.
Indonesia's Research and Development Center for Geological Disaster Technology said that the volcano started to erupt at 7.32 EST on Friday morning, with the thick plume of smoke reaching a height of 5,500m above the summit.
Further, Miriam Tulevski from the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism was quoted as saying that thick smoke, volcanic ash and pyroclastic materials were released during the eruption.
Authorities also stated that the danger zone has been restricted to a 3km radius from the peak of Mount Merapi.
In addition, the Research and Development Center for Geological Disaster Technology said there was a noticeable increase in the crater rate at 6.00am - about two hours before the eruption.
On Friday, a spokesman of the disaster mitigation agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement that residents living within a 5 km (3 mile) radius of the mountain will move to shelters.
Nugroho added that 120 people who had been hiking up Merapi were safe.
The state-owned aviation agency AirNav also issued a statement saying that the nearest big city to the volcano, Yogyakarta shut the airport because of the threat from the ash.
Meanwhile, Nugroho described Merapi’s latest eruption as phreatic, which means magma heats up ground water and vapor is released under pressure.
The disaster mitigation agency however, pointed out that the alert status on Merapi had not be raised.
A series of eruptions at the Mount Merapi volcano, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the country killed over 350 people in 2010.