Mount Merapi, Indonesia's Most Active Volcano, Erupts, Sending Ash Over 6,500 Feet Into the Air

Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano, erupted early Thursday morning, spewing an ash column around 6,500 feet in the air. Disaster management authorities are warning tourists and locals to stay outside a nearly two-mile radius from the peak of the volcano.

The volcano which rises to 9,550 feet above sea level, is located at the border between Yogyakarta and Central Java (home to Indonesia's capital Jakarta). It erupted at 5:16 a.m. local time, which lasted for around 150 seconds, according to a statement by Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).

Volcanic material was reported to have spewed over a 0.62-mile radius, pouring ash rain over various villages around 6.2 miles south of the volcano, according to a statement by Hanik Humaida, the head of the Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center (BPPTKG).

Residents and visitors have been warned by the Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center (PVMBG) to remain outside a 1.86-mile radius of the peak of Mount Merapi.

Potential dangers include the possible collapse of a lava dome, causing slides of pyroclastic rocks and other volcanic materials, as well as lava floods that could hit regions near the slope of the volcano during heavy downpours near the crater, volcano experts warned.

"There has been an increase in Merapi's volcanic activity from mid-December 2019 to mid-January this year, both under and on the ground," Hanik said in the statement. "Similar eruptions can still happen in the future as an indicator that the magma chamber is still supplying magma."

Several people have shared images and video footage of the latest eruption on social media.

Mount Merapi erupted four times between September and November 2019, which was followed by volcanic earthquakes with a depth of around 1 mile. Its current volcano alert level is "waspada" (caution), the second-highest level in Indonesia's four-tiered alert system.

Its eruption last November saw parts of Benyubiru village in Central Java covered in ash. Earlier in 2019, a river of lava flowed for around 4,593 feet down the volcano's slopes after entering an "effusive eruption phase." The country was struck with more than 11,550 volcanic earthquakes in 2018, leaving many people dead or homeless.

Its major eruption in 2010 saw the death of nearly 350 people and the evacuation of nearly 400,000 in the country. Mount Merapi is one of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia and has been active since around 1548.

Mount Merapi Indonesia Lava 2019
Lava streams down from Indonesia's Mount Merapi in the Yogyakarta province on January 7, 2019. Getty Images
Mount Merapi, Indonesia's Most Active Volcano, Erupts, Sending Ash Over 6,500 Feet Into the Air | World