My wife’s brother has a huge house in the historic Central Java town of Yogyakarta, and from the balcony on the second floor, you get a view something like this:
But the monkeys are already scrambling down from the slopes of the volcano to lower ground.
They know something is up.
And if they are right, this might be the view from my wife’s brother’s house anytime soon:
Merapi eruption 15 May 2006, photo APP
Thankfully, though, the volcano is a touch over 20kms from Jogyakarta (judging from this NASA satellite image), so anything less than the “really big one" shouldn’t directly threaten the city (Jogyakarta’s far enough to be safe from any lava flows reaching it).
But could Merapi erupt big time?
Well, some people seem to reckon so:
Surono, head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG), said the distension of the mountain’s slopes was much more rapid this time around, indicating a higher-pressure build-up of gas and hence a much more explosive eruption.
“We believe Merapi will erupt explosively, as it did in 1930, and not just spew gas like in 2006,” he said.
“However, that scenario is only a guess. No one really knows when Merapi will erupt and how much volcanic material it will spew out.”
But it could be even worse. The eruption in 1930 was big, but pales into insignificance to the devastating eruption in 1006, which, according to Wikipedia, “covered all of Central Java with ash and led to the collapse of the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram”.
Heck. No wonder SBY is worried.
He might want to make some offerings while he still has the time!
Shortly after I wrote this post there was a major eruption and tens of people were killed – essentially incinerated by the extremely hot (500 degrees Celsius) gas clouds that came rushing down the slopes of the volcano at speeds well over 100km/hr. One of those killed was Mbah Maridja, a mystic who tragically failed to understand that man is no match against an angry and powerful volcano. And then a few days later there was another major eruption and tens more were killed in a similar fashion. Over 150 people have lost their lives altogether. I can’t really understand why the authorities hadn’t evacuated everyone a safer distance from the volcano, but they didn’t, and that was that. Below are some pictures that I was sent by a family member – who was a safe distance from Merapi when it errupted; so you can imagine how hellish it must have been in the danger zone!
And the crazy thing is that once Merapi settles down again, the locals will return to their villages, some only around 5 kms from the volcano’s peak…