April 27, 2006

Indonesian volcano in no rush to erupt: expert

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) - There is no immediate
need to raise the alert status for Indonesia's volatile Mount
Merapi, despite magma moving higher inside the volcano, a
leading vulcanologist said on Thursday.

Merapi, which towers over the ancient royal city of
Yogyakarta, has been spewing thick smoke for two weeks and
triggering scores of tremors.

Government officials, including Yogyakarta sultan and
provincial governor Hamengkubuwono X, have been urging
residents to leave the foothills, saying Merapi could erupt as
soon as Friday.

"The magma is approaching the peak but has not reached the
rim yet. Although we are on alert status, there is no rush to
increase the level. It is not extremely worrying," Subandrio,
head of the Merapi section at Yogyakarta's state-owned Center
for Volcanological Research and Technology Development, told

On Thursday morning, the area surrounding the volcano,
which claimed almost 70 lives in a 1994 eruption and 1,300 in
1930, was bright with sunshine and farmers could be seen
working at their fertile lands.

The volcano has been placed on "Orange Code" -- the second
highest alert level -- due to an increase in tremors.

Officials have moved more than 600 people from the mountain
but thousands remain living and working on its slopes.