Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano has erupted violently, spreading panic and raining ash more than 12 km away.
People living near the volcano in central Java Provence said the explosion this morning was louder and stronger than the eruptions that killed 34 people on Tuesday.
Soldiers and police posted nearest the volcano were seen fleeing along with hundreds of people, who quickly clogged roads with cars and motorcycles as black soot fell across a vast area.
“My neighbours told me to leave and my village is already empty…every body has gone”, said 42 year old resident Mukinem, who was heading away from the volcano on a motorcyle with her husband and two young children.
“I heard several sounds like thunder, I was so scared I was shaking”.
A resident of Hargobinangun said the eruption was more than twice as big as the eruption on Tuesday.
Government volcanologists were not immediately available to confirm the strength of the new activity.
At least two people were taken to hsopital with burn injuries.
The 2914 metre Mount Merapi, which means ‘mountain of fire’, is the most active of the 69 volcanoes with history of eruptions in Indonesia.
More than 50,000 people are living in cramped temporary shelters near the central Java city of Yogyakarta, after being ordered to evacuate on Monday.
Officials have said that many have returned to feed their livestock and check their properties. It is not known how many people were on the mountain during the eruption.