May 14, 2006

Indonesia’s Merapi spews lava, not clear if erupted

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano spewed
lava and hot ash early on Monday, a regional official said, but
a volcanologist said he had no confirmation of the report.

Yogyakarta Administration Secretary Bambang Susanto told
Elshinta news radio that, according to information he had
received, the mountain "exploded" in the pre-dawn hours.

However, senior government volcanologist Ahmad Dali told
Reuters by telephone from the volcanology coordinating center
in Bandung that it had received no such report from the area.

Indonesia raised the alert status of Merapi to the highest
level, also known as code red or danger status, on Saturday,
although experts said they could not predict when it would

Dali said an eruption of the volcano would be defined as
volcanic material being ejected straight into the sky to a
substantial height.

Thick clouds of charcoal gray smoke billowed periodically
from the crater on Sunday, but there were no visible signs of
lava flowing from Merapi, as it already has on several
occasions in recent days.

Merapi is one of the most menacing volcanoes in the Pacific
"Ring of Fire."