Dusted with ash, the hand of a victim of Indonesia's Mount Merapi extends from a sea of body bags in the city of Yogyakarta on Friday. The Indonesian volcano exploded violently Thursday night, more than doubling its recent death toll and cloaking villages nearly 10 miles (15 kilometers) away in shades of gray, the Associated Press reported.
Streaking downhill at up to 60 miles (97 kilometers) an hour, pyroclastic flows—searing, ground-hugging mixtures of ash and toxic gas—are responsible for the 60 or more fatalities uncovered Thursday and Friday, according to the AP.
Photograph by Slamet Riyadi, AP
Ash Over Indonesia
Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most volatile volcano, spews clouds of ash over the island of Java on Monday. On Thursday night Merapi exploded again—the peak's largest blast since the 1870s, the Associated Press reported.
The scope of the Thursday night eruption surprised residents and experts alike. For example, the hardest-hit village, Bonggang, some 9 miles (15 kilometers) from Mount Merapi, had been considered outside the danger zone.
"I've never seen it act like this," Surono, head of Indonesia's Volcano Mitigation and Geological Disaster Agency—who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name—told the AP Friday. "We don't know what to expect."
Photograph by Trisnadi, AP
Suspended in Ash
A pet bird lies dead outside an ash-covered house on Tuesday after ash from Mount Merapi smothered the abandoned village of Kaliadem, Indonesia. As of midday Friday, Merapi's human death toll stands at about 120, the Associated Press reported.
Abandoned to the ashes, a building smolders in the village of Argomulyo, Indonesia. Many of Friday's fatalities were children from Argomulyo, about 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Mount Merapi.
"Argomulyo village has been burned down to the ground by the heat clouds," Yogyakarta police force medic Teguh Dwi Santosa told the Agence France-Presse news service Friday. "Many children have died there. When I was in the village the ground was still hot."
Photograph from ALTAMIRA/AFP/Getty Images
Ashes to Ashes
Rescuers remove the charred remains of a victim of Thursday night's Mount Merapi eruption in Argomulyo, Indonesia, on Friday.
Gas from the blast reached temperatures of 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit (760 degrees Celsius), according to the Associated Press.
Soldiers carry a victim of Mount Merapi through an ash-dusted bamboo grove in the village of Argomulyo, Indonesia, on Friday.
More than a hundred thousand people have been evacuated from Merapi's slopes. To help keep villagers from returning to their homes in the danger zone, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced Friday that the government would compensate farmers for lost livestock "at a proper price," the Jakarta Globe reported.
Photograph from Stringer/Indonesia/Reuters
Lava Lights the Clouds
Mount Merapi spews lava high above the Indonesian island of Java Tuesday. Magma in the volcano is rising from depths of 4 to 5 miles (6 to 8 kilometers), versus 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) during its last eruption, in 2006, officials from Indonesia's Volcano Mitigation and Geological Disaster Agency said Friday—not a good sign.
"This is the scenario I dislike the most, because the deepest magma is pushing up now," Surono, the agency's chief, told the Australian newspaper Friday. "The eruptions haven't stopped, the tremors are getting stronger, and one big explosion could be the result."