Java volcano activity quietens

Posted by: Magpie

Java volcano activity quietens - 18 May 06 05:03

Activity on the Indonesian volcano Mount Merapi appears has calmed down but scientists are warning it still poses a threat.
Lava is continuing to flow down the sides of the mountain although the clouds of hot gas, ash and rock fragments appear much smaller.
However, the volcano's alert status remains at the highest level.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to visit the affected area in central Java on Tuesday.
Thousands of people have been moved from the volcano's upper slopes, but a small number are refusing to leave.

The clouds around the summit on Tuesday were half the size of those on Monday, locals told Reuters news agency.
No ash falls have been reported, unlike on Monday when fields and houses around the mountain were coated in grey ash.
By Sunday more than 4,500 people living in the villages closest to the crater, or next to rivers that could provide channels for hot lava, had been moved to emergency shelters.

Many more are still lining up by the side of the road, waiting for trucks to take them to safety.
But some are refusing to move.
"Today there's only a small cloud, so it is okay. I'm not too afraid," said Lestari, a 36-year-old local resident, on Tuesday.
Farmers say they cannot leave their crops and animals, otherwise they will have no income and cannot support their families, so they are waiting until the government offers financial help.
The mountain is also revered by many locals, who believe mystical sprits live in the volcano's crater. Many say they are waiting for specific signs - such as clouds in the shape of a sheep's fleece - to show them an eruption is imminent.

Merapi, which means "mountain of fire", is one of the most fearsome volcanoes in the Pacific "Ring of Fire".
A gas cloud from the volcano's last eruption in 1994 killed 60 people.
One of its deadliest eruptions was in 1930, when about 1,300 people were killed.