Saturday, November 03, 2007
Indonesian volcano eruption is imminent
"It could erupt now," the head of Indonesia's centre for Vulcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation told Reuters on Friday.
An Indonesian soldier carries an elderly refugee into a camp in Blitar. Police went door to door on Thursday and used megaphones to order villagers near the volcano to flee to tent camps Surono, who only goes by one name, told the news agency from the capital Jakarta that Kelud was in a "critical phase."
An estimated 350,000 people live within 10 kilometres of the volcano, according to Reuters.
Two weeks ago, authorities ordered more than 100,000 people to evacuate vulnerable areas, but many ignored the order to leave or left then returned to tend to their farms, reports said.
Intense seismic activity has increased over the course of the past few days, with analysts recording more than 600 tremors on Thursday night and more than 500 again overnight.
The volcano is only about 90 kilometres away from Surabaya, the second-largest city in the southeast Asian country.
The last time Mount Kelud erupted, in 1990, it killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds of others.
An underground reservoir of magma is pushing up to the surface, but is being blocked by sediment from the 1990 eruption, scientist Mohammed Hendrasto said. That intense pressure could result in "the most horrifying eruption in Kelud's history," he said.
Indonesia, which has about 100 active volcanoes spread across 17,500 islands, sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire" — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.