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Captured: Mount Merapi Erupts Again

Posted Nov 04, 2010

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Eruptions at Indonesia’s deadly volcano appeared to be intensifying Thursday as towering clouds of ash shot from the crater with a thunder-like roar, dusting towns up to 150 miles (250 kilometers) away and forcing motorists to switch on their headlights during the day.

The death toll climbed to 44 – with six more lives recorded in the last 24 hours – and the government repeated orders to airlines to stay clear of the unpredictable mountain.

Mount Merapi, which means “Fire Mountain,” is one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

But even those who have dedicated a lifetime to studying it have been baffled by its erratic behavior since its first Oct. 26 eruption, which has been followed by more than a dozen other powerful blasts and thousands of volcanic tremors.

They’d earlier hoped that would result in a long, slow release of energy.

“But we have no idea what to expect now,” said Surono, a state volcanologist, adding that he has never seen the needle on Merapi’s seismograph working with such intensity.

The fear is that a new lava dome forming in the mouth of the crater will collapse, triggering a deadly surge of 600 degree Fahrenheit (1,000 Celsius) ash and gas – known to experts as pyroclastic flows – at speeds of 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour). (AP)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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Picture taken from Balerante village in Klaten shows Merapi volcano releasing ash clouds on November 1, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which has claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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Villagers ride on a truck as they leave their homes on a street covered by volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Merapi in Muntilan, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Indonesia's deadly volcano sent a burst of searing gas high into the air Thursday, hours after its most explosive eruption in a deadly week triggered an exodus from villages and emergency shelters along its rumbling slopes. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

3

Motorcycles stad in the street as Yogyakarta is covered in ash following a further eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano on October 30, 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Mount Merapi has erupted again on Saturday covering the surrounding area in hot ash. Earlier eruptions this week have claimed the lives of at least 36 people, with authorities evacuating villagers within a 10km zone after warning more eruptions were imminent. Mount Merapi, the 'Mountain of Fire' is the most active volcano in Indonesia. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

4

Residents take cover as Yogyakarta is covered in ash following a further eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano on October 30, 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Mount Merapi has erupted again on Saturday covering the surrounding area in hot ash. Earlier eruptions this week have claimed the lives of at least 36 people, with authorities evacuating villagers within a 10km zone after warning more eruptions were imminent. Mount Merapi, the 'Mountain of Fire' is the most active volcano in Indonesia. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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Mount Merapi spews volcanic material as seen from Klaten, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Searing gas and molten lava poured from Indonesia's deadly volcano in an explosion three times as powerful as last week's devastating blast, chasing people from villages and emergency shelters along its slopes. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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A man walks on the road covered with ash in Yogyakarta following a further eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano on October 30, 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Mount Merapi has erupted again on Saturday covering the surrounding area in hot ash. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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Police stand guard on a road covered with ash in Yogyakarta following a further eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano on October 30, 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Mount Merapi has erupted again on Saturday covering the surrounding area in hot ash. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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A bicycler and motorists drive on a road in Yogyakarta following a further eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano on October 30, 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Mount Merapi has erupted again on Saturday covering the surrounding area in hot ash. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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A street cleaner walks on a road in Yogyakarta following a further eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano on October 30, 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Mount Merapi has erupted again on Saturday covering the surrounding area in hot ash. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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An internally displaced Indonesian woman and her child arrive at the Panti Nugroho hospital after Mount Merapi again erupted in Pakem on October 30, 2010, following a recent violent explosion causing raining ash. Indonesia struggled with disaster on two fronts following another powerful eruption of the archipelago's most active volcano, which sparked chaos and spewed ash over a vast area of central Java, whilst elsewhere rescue workers searched for tsunami victims. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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This picture shows destruction in near to Merapi volcano (back) after the first eruption on October 26, taken from Kaliadem village on the slope of Merapi mountain in Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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A woman wearing a mask examines her house covered with ash after the first eruption on October 26, taken at Kaliadem village on the slope of Merapi mountain in Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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A man cleans his house following the October 27 Merapi volcano eruption in Kaliadem, Sleman, on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

14

A wheelbarrow and an abandoned house facade are covered in ash following the October 27 Merapi volcano eruption in Kaliadem, Sleman, on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

15

A dead cow lies down an alley as surroundings are covered with ash following the October 27 Merapi volcano eruption on the slope of Merapi mountain, in Kaliadem, Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

16

A bike lies down at an abandoned house covered with ash on the slope of Merapi mountain, in Kaliadem, Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

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Furniture covered in ash sits in an abandoned house on the slope of Merapi mountain as family salvage valuable things in Kaliadem, Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (The words read "Don't give up". (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

18

Abandoned houses are seen on the slope of Merapi mountain in Kaliadem, Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

19

Merapi volcano releases ash clouds near Balerante village, Klaten on November 1, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which has claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

20

Local residents prepare to leave the danger zone as the Merapi volcano releases ash clouds near Balerante village, Klaten on November 1, 2010. Indonesia's Mount Merapi spewed heat clouds and ash on November 1 as the country struggled to care for some 65,000 people displaced by the volcano and a deadly tsunami. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

21

In this photo taken late Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, lava glows at the crater of Mount Merapi as seen from Deles, Central Java, Indonesia. Indonesia's most dangerous volcano is once again sending searing gas clouds and burning rocks down its scorched flanks. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

22

Children wear masks to protect themselves from volcanic ash at the evacuation center in Purwobinangun village, Sleman district on November 3, 2010. Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano spewed more deadly heat clouds November 3 as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited some of the 50,000 evacuees in shelters. (SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

23

Villagers with their faces covered with volcanic ash, flee their homes on motorcycles following the eruption of Mount Merapi in Klaten, Central Java, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's deadly volcano erupted Wednesday with its biggest blast yet, shooting searing ash miles into the sky and forcing the hasty evacuations of panicked villagers and emergency shelters near the base. (AP Photo)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

24

Villagers watch as Mount Merapi erupts in Wukirsari, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Searing gas and molten lava poured from Indonesia's deadly volcano in an explosion three times as powerful as last week's devastating blast, chasing people from villages and emergency shelters along its slopes. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

25

A farmer pushes his bicycle as volcanic material from Mount Merapi eruption is seen in the background in Klaten, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Searing gas and molten lava poured from Indonesia's deadly volcano in an explosion three times as powerful as last week's devastating blast, chasing people from villages and emergency shelters along its slopes. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

26

Local residents leave a danger zone as Merapi volcano releases ash clouds in Balerante village, Klaten on November 1, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which has claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

27

A farmer stands in a rice field as volcanic material from Mount Merapi erupts, in Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. Three more people have been killed during the latest eruption taking the death toll to at least 44 people during the week of deadly eruptions.Ę(Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

28

Child refugees receive food from volunteers at a temporary evacuation centre set up as a result of the repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi, in Keputran village, Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. Three more people have been killed during the latest eruption taking the death toll to at least 44 people during the week of deadly eruptions. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

29

A boy refugee plays with a hula hoop at a temporary evacuation centre set up as a result of the repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi, in Keputran village, Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. Three more people have been killed during the latest eruption taking the death toll to at least 44 people during the week of deadly eruptions. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

30

A woman carries her daughter at a temporary evacuation centre set up as a result of the repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi, in Keputran village, Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. Three more people have been killed during the latest eruption taking the death toll to at least 44 people during the week of deadly eruptions. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

31

A woman cries as she carries a child at a temporary evacuation centre set up as a result of the repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi, in Keputran village, Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Over 70,000 people have now been evacuated with the danger zone being extended to over 15km as the volcano continues to spew ash and volcanic material. Three more people have been killed during the latest eruption taking the death toll to at least 44 people during the week of deadly eruptions. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

32

A man refugee waits in a flooded tent due to rain at a temporary evacuation centre set up as a result of the repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi, in Keputran village, Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

33

Refugees travel in a car to a temporary evacuation center set up as a result of the repeated eruptions of Mount Merapi, in Keputran village, Klaten, Central Java on November 4, 2010 near Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

34

Motorists ride as pyroclastic material from the eruption of Mount Merapi billows in the background in Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. A deadly volcano in Indonesia spewed searing cloud of ash down its slopes Sunday, prompting panic and chaos among thousands of villagers who had taken advantage of a lull in activity to rush home and check on their livestock. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

35

Residents, displaced by the eruption of Mount Merapi, queue up for lunch at a temporary shelter in Kepuharjo, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

Captured: Mount Merapi Still Erupting

36

Mount Merapi spews volcanic smoke as seen from Deles, Central Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah)

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