Jakarta – Emergency response authorities have evacuated 1,294 residents from parts of Yogyakarta and Central Java in the vicinity of Mount Merapi in anticipation of heightened volcanic activity, following a volcano tectonic earthquake that occurred on Wednesday afternoon and subsequent data analysis showing that magma below the mountain was rising to the surface.
Areas that may be affected in the event of an eruption include Cangkringan district of Sleman regency in Yogyakarta province, as well as Dukun district in Magelang regency, Selo district in Boyolali regency and Kemalang district in Klaten regency of Central Java province.
Raditya Jati, who heads the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) information and communication data center, said that local authorities had evacuated 835 residents from Magelang regency, 203 from Sleman, 133 from Boyolali and 123 from Klaten.
"Those who were evacuated are mostly vulnerable people, such as the elderly, children, infants, pregnant women, people with disabilities and breastfeeding mothers," Raditya said in a statement on Wednesday, as quoted by tempo.co.
Raditya lauded local emergency authorities for their promptness in disaster mitigation and response by evacuating their residents to "sister villages".
Emergency posts at evacuation shelters were on standby around the clock to provide health services, while volunteers had been helping with setting up public kitchens and distributing basic necessities, he said.
Raditya added that the administrations of the four regencies had also increased their status to siaga (watch) or darurat (emergency), the two highest statuses under the country's four-tiered volcano alert system, which allowed better accessibility to disaster mitigation resources.
Local authorities are continuing to evaluate critical challenges to evacuation procedures to make any necessary improvements to infrastructure, communication and equipment.
Acting head Arif Permana of the Sleman Transportation Agency said on Wednesday that the agency would start installing emergency lights along the evacuation route on Nov. 17 to prepare for potential nighttime evacuations. It would also install lights at evacuation shelters and emergency livestock sheds.
The Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center (BPPTKG) determined that magma beneath Merapi was moving closer to the base of its crater by examining the hypocenter of Wednesday's volcano tectonic earthquake.
The gas column released during the event reached a height of more than 1.5 kilometers from the mountain's peak, said Mt. Merapi section head Agus Budi Santoso of the BPPTKG's Yogyakarta branch.
BPPTKG head Hanik Humaida said that no fresh lava had emerged since Nov. 5, when the volcano's alert status was raised, clarifying that the lava ejected on Sunday was old lava from a previous eruption that was dislodged during the tectonic earthquake. (syk)