Find the latest breaking news and information on the top stories, science, business, entertainment, politics, and more.

Indonesia’s Merapi volcano erupts, blankets villages in ash

At least eight villages near the volcano have been hit by volcanic ash.

Indonesia’s Merapi volcano has erupted, spewing smoke and ash that blanketed villages near the crater and forced authorities to halt tourism and mining activities on the slopes of the country’s most active volcano.

Located in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta Special Region, the volcano erupted around noon (05:00 GMT) on Saturday, unleashing clouds of hot ash and a mixture of rock, lava and gas that traveled up to seven kilometers down its slopes.

A column of hot clouds rose 100 meters into the sky, National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said. There were no direct reports of casualties.

The eruption during the day blocked the sun. At least eight villages near the volcano have been hit by volcanic ash, an officer at one of Merapi’s observation posts said.

Images broadcast on local TV station Kompas TV showed ash-covered houses and roads near a village near the volcano, located on Java Island.

Authorities said at least eight villages near the volcano have been hit by ash (Antara Foto/Anis Efizudin via Reuters)

The 2,963 meter high Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. The last major eruption in 2010 killed more than 300 people and forced the evacuation of some 280,000 residents.

Saturday’s was Merapi’s most powerful eruption since 1930, when about 1,300 people died. An eruption in 1994 killed about 60 people.

The volcano’s alert status has remained at its second highest level since 2020 following renewed activity.

Indonesia, which has nearly 130 active volcanoes, lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high levels of volcanic and seismic activity.