Volcano Heats Up, May Erupt in Indonesia

Irwan Firdaus at Mount Kelud, Indonesia
Associated Press
November 5, 2007

Indonesia's deadly Mount Kelud spewed fresh clouds of smoke Monday, and the temperature of its crater lake soared.

Scientists said an eruption now could be much stronger than the last time the volcano blew its top in 1990.

At least two more of Indonesia's approximately 100 active volcanoes also were emitting smoke, with one—Anak Krakatau (see photo)—spitting glowing stones and lava as well, illustrating the powerful seismic forces under the archipelago.

But authorities were most worried about Kelud, located on the island Java, because of the volcano's deadly history, including a 1919 eruption that killed thousands.

The temperature of its crater lake was so high that nearby monitoring equipment was no longer working, said Surono, one of 16 volcanologists watching over the peak 24 hours a day. Like many Indonesians, he uses only one name.

Villagers Reluctant to Leave

Despite the threat, there was little sense of panic among villagers on Kelud's slopes.

While several thousand people have fled to government shelters, authorities said Sunday that around 25,000 others were ignoring evacuation orders and remained in the danger zone.

(See a photo of a shelter near Mount Kelud [October 20, 2007].)

Officials have made no attempt to prevent people from traveling inside a six-mile (ten-kilometer) zone around the peak, although the local government says the area is off-limits.

"I feel it is OK to stay here," said Sukirno, a local man who was tending papaya plants four miles (six kilometers) from the peak. "No one can guarantee our safety apart from ourselves."

Highest Alert

Continued on Next Page >>


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