Jakarta – Authorities have started evacuating hundreds of residents living in disaster-prone areas around Mount Merapi in Magelang, Central Java, following the warning of a potential eruption of the volcano in the near future.
The Magelang administration, with the help of the Indonesian Military, the National Police, disaster mitigation agencies and a group of volunteers, began transporting the residents with private cars, pick-up cars, minibuses and ambulances on Friday.
"Residents are being evacuated to designated 'sister' villages starting today," the Magelang administration's government and public welfare assistant, Nanda Cahyadi Pribadi, said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.
The evacuation is prioritizing vulnerable groups, namely the elderly, children, pregnant women and sick people, out of more than 500 potential evacuees living in nine hamlets closest to the top of Mt. Merapi.
The residents include 153 people from Paten village, 160 people from Krinjing village and 130 people from Ngargomulyo village, who are being transported to Banyurojo, Mertoyudan and Tamanagung village.
"These are only temporary data. The numbers could increase any time depending on the conditions," Nanda said, while ensuring that the entire evacuation process followed strict COVID-19 health protocols.
Sleman Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) mitigation section head Joko Lelono said his agency had prepared a shelter for the evacuation of vulnerable people and livestock, in accordance with the Merapi Contingency Plan.
"Three hamlets that might be affected are Kalitengah Lor, Kaliadem and Pelemsari. For a long time, Kaliadem has had no residents, only livestock, so it is safe to do the evacuation later," Joko said on Thursday.
Pelemsari has two families that will move to their other permanent residence, while Kalitengah Lor has 160 vulnerable people, some of whom are moving to the Gayam shelter and the others to relatives' houses. All evacuees will receive logistical assistance.
Joko said the evacuation was set to start on Friday after his agency readied the evacuation barracks.
The Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center (BPPTKG) increased the alert status for Mt. Merapi on Thursday, predicting the volcanic activity might soon lead to an eruption.
The BPPTKG predicted that volcanic material and hot ash clouds could spew as far as 5 kilometers. Besides Magelang and Sleman, the center said the eruption might also reach Boyolali and Klaten regencies in Central Java. (syk)