Monday, December 27, 2010

Mount Merapi volcano - Indonesia

YOGYAKARTA — Indonesian scientists Friday downgraded the alert status of Mount Merapi from its highest level after it killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions that started in late October. "The decision was taken this morning at 9:00 am (0200GMT) as its eruption activities continue to slow down," the head of the volcanology office, Subandrio, told AFP from a monitoring office in Yogyakarta, the main city south of Merapi. He said that more than 250,000 people who had been living in evacuation shelters were now allowed to return home, except for those who lived in the worst affected district, Sleman, on the southern slope. "The volcano's threat is now limited to only some parts on the southern slope. People are not allowed to do activities there." Another volcanologist, Surono, said people must remain away from river banks due to possible fast-moving volcanic mudflow streaming down the volcano's slope during heavy downpours. "It's especially during the heavy rainfall as the eruptions left an estimated 150 million cubic metres of volcanic material on the slopes," he said. Hundreds of people fled their houses earlier this week when heavy rainfall flushed thousands of tons of volcanic material into several rivers, damaging a bridge and submerging houses. Disaster management officials said they had recorded 353 people killed. Many were buried under fast-flowing torrents of boiling hot gas and rock that incinerated villages on the southern slopes when the volcano exploded on November 5, its biggest eruption in over a century. The volcano, located on the central island of Java, killed around 1,300 people in 1930 but experts say the latest eruptions are its biggest since 1872

Source: APC News hosted on google news


We were told that Mount Merapi volcano and the Bromo volcano had just erupted and we would not be allowed to visit the place. However, the alert level at the area was just reduced a few days prior to our visit as mentioned in the above article.

The site isn't too far away from Yogyakarta. We went pretty excited and nervous at what we would see. As we got closer to the affected area we could feel the temperature rising. And as we got even closer, we realized that we weren't the only ones on our way there. It had become a local tourist attraction of sorts! A large number of cars along the small road causes traffic jams!

We got walking across the area and what we saw is here in the form if pictures for you to see! It makes you wonder why god would punish us humans like this? Or have we brought this destruction upon ourselves?

The intense smell of sulphur engulfed us and there were some locals selling masks in the area. We walked on trying to get closer. We couldn't see the entire mountain since it was hidden by clouds but we could see the path of destruction it took along it's lava path. The entire area was covered with volcanic ash and most of the vegetation in the area was burnt. There was still smoke coming out of various pockets from the ground. There were also large patches on the ground which I assume are sulphur patches.

I have never seen such a site in my life apart from what we see in movies and the news channels. Even when we watch these things on the news, we are so disconnected from reality! I didn't know whether to be excited to be able to see something like this in front of my eyes or whether I was sympathizing with the people in the region.

The pictures attached have their own tale to tell. Feel free to share your comments. I've downsized the quality of the pics for quicker upload. I also have videos that I will upload once I get to my Internet connection at home.

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