One week after quake, geologists fear Mount Merapi eruption

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Sunday, June 4, 2006

File picture of Mt Merapi. Photo credit: Wikipedian Blethrow (GFDL)

An Indonesian government volcanologist reports that Mount Merapi spewed lava and ash many times on Saturday, renewing fears of a devastating volcanic eruption.

Government geologist Subandriyo said that Merapi's lava dome has swelled 56 feet (17 m) in the past week to a height of 330 feet (100 m), raising fears that it could collapse and release a pyroclastic flow of hot gases and rock fragments burning everything in its path. The quake is believed to contribute to the growing instability of the lava dome, scientists said.

The mountain also sent about 90 trails of molten lava down its western slope on Thursday, said geologist Tri Yani.

The announcement comes one week after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Yogyakarta, killing at least 6,000 people and injuring tens of thousands more. Since then, the region has experienced over one thousand aftershocks - most were weak, but some were strong enough to jolt villagers awake in the area.

Villagers in the vicinity of the mountain have started performing ancient religious rituals aimed at averting an eruption. The royally appointed guardian of the mountain, "Mbah" Maridjan, was reported to have led a silent procession of about 100 people on a march around a village near the volcano.

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