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Jakarta Post

Klaten officials distribute thousands of masks as Merapi spews more ash

  • Ganug Nugroho Adi

    The Jakarta Post

Klaten, Central Java   /   Tue, May 22, 2018   /   10:21 pm
Klaten officials distribute thousands of masks as Merapi spews more ash Smoke emanates from the crater of Mount Merapi in Magelang, Central Java, on May 22. The volcano’s status was raised yesterday from normal to 'waspada’ (caution), or level two, following a string of phreatic eruptions and volcanic earthquakes that followed. (JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Authorities have handed out thousands of protective masks to people living in several villages in Kemalang district, Klaten, Central Java, after volcanic ash blanketed the area following a string of phreatic eruptions at Mount Merapi from Monday to early Tuesday.

Since the first phreatic eruption occurred two weeks ago, at least 15,000 masks have been distributed for residents in Kemalang.

“Currently, the conditions are still relatively safe. It was a bit worse yesterday [Monday] as slight ash rain fell in the area. The Klaten Disaster Mitigation Agency’s [BPBD] quick response team immediately monitored several villages prone to being impacted by eruptions,” BPBD Klaten head Bambang Gianto said on Tuesday.

Among the villages that might be affected are Balerante and Panggang. Ash rain fell in two villages from 8:30 p.m. local time to 9 p.m. on Monday.

(Read also: Mount Merapi's alert status raised to caution)

Every night, local residents take turns patrolling and standing guard at security posts. “Mt. Merapi’s status has been raised from normal to waspada (caution). We are calling on all residents to stay calm. There is no need to panic but please stay alert,” said Bambang, adding that the residents could carry on with their daily activities as usual.

Hundreds of residents of Tlogolele village in Selo district, Boyolali, sought refuge at temporary shelters after the third phreatic eruption of the volcano occurred at 5:50 p.m. on Monday. They returned to their homes on Tuesday morning to carry out their daily activities.

“We will monitor the conditions. If Merapi erupts again, they must return to the shelters,” said Tlogolele village head Widodo, adding that villagers were no longer at the shelters. (ebf)