Terrified Indonesians flee erupting volcano
The peak of Mount Merapi was clouded with smoke, making it impossible to see if lava was spewing out, but ash has started raining down on residents.
Tue, Oct 26 2010 at 8:54 AM
ERUPTION: Pressure building beneath a lava dome in the mouth of Indonesia's most volatile volcano could trigger one of its deadliest blasts in years, scientists warned Tuesday, as residents living along the slopes were moved to temporary camps. (Photo: A.
SLEMAN, Indonesia - An Indonesian volcano erupted on Tuesday, prompting terrified villagers to flee and join the thousands already evacuated from its slopes, witnesses said.
The peak of Mount Merapi was clouded with smoke, a Reuters photographer said, making it impossible to see if lava was spewing out, but that ash had started raining down on frightened residents.
"They cannot see the mountain but the ash is suddenly all around, so they are coming down in a panic," he said. "People are screaming. Hundreds of people are fleeing."
He said the air was thick with the smell of ash, but breathing was not difficult.
Merapi, on Java island, erupted on Tuesday evening, a day after the alert status was raised to the highest level.
There was no word on casualties. Authorities had been trying since Monday to evacuate more than 11,000 villagers living on the volcano's slopes.
In a 1994 eruption after the volcano's lava dome collapsed, 70 people were killed. The volcano killed 1,300 people in 1930.
(Reporting by Telly Nathalia and Sunanda Creagh; Editing by Andrew Marshall and Nick Macfie)