C. Java, Yogya bracing for more eruptions

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Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has called on the Magelang regency administration to immediately focus on evacuation routes around Mount Merapi that remain in a questionable state, given the current alert status of the volcano, located on the provincial border between Central Java and Yogyakarta.

A number of bridges and roads, including eruption evacuation routes in Magelang, have been severely damaged, most likely due to heavy-duty trucks, which frequently ply the routes, carrying Merapi sand and rocks.

Ganjar said his office would bring together businesspeople, truck drivers and relevant stakeholders in the near future to seek the best solution to the evacuation routes if the situation worsened.

He added the matter was crucial so that evacuation routes could immediately be used by residents, especially in the event of an eruption.

“I’m sure that assistance funds from the provincial administration are adequate for the purpose [fixing damaged evacuation routes]. But the evacuation routes are under the authority of the Magelang regency administration, so I hope it will be able to focus on the matter,” Ganjar said as quoted by Antara news agency.

“We continue to communicate with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency [BNPB] and relevant stakeholders regarding the latest developments from Mount Merapi,” he added.

Separately, the Boyolali Regency Education, Youth and Sports Agency in Central Java has provided lodgings to accommodate ninth graders sitting the national examinations, in the event of a Merapi eruption.

The students hail from Selo district, the closest location to the peak of the volcano.

Agency head Abdul Rohman said on Friday that his office had carried out the same measures when volcanic activities intensified in 2010.

“During the exam, members of the exam committee will be at local education agency offices to distribute exam papers to the respective schools located in isolated areas in North Boyolali,” Rohman said, adding that 14,515 junior high school students in Boyolali would sit the national exams on Monday.

In Yogyakarta, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s geology agency head Surono said Merapi’s current activities were different to those in 2010 and that it no longer had a lava dome.

“Since it erupted in 2010, Merapi no longer has a ‘cap’. Its system is very open. That’s why it has often erupted with a roar lately,” Surono said as quoted by Antara.

According to Surono, the magma inside the volcano has virtually run out given the 2010 eruption, with Merapi now replenishing its magma chamber.

The magma-filling process, added Surono, emits gas when the magma-cooling process increases. Volcanic magma in Java is rich in gas content.

“That’s why we often hear explosions from the release of the gas. Sulfuric gas also escapes due to the lack of a plug in the crater. The gas is gradually released without accumulating greatly,” said Surono.

Yogyakarta Geological Disaster Technology Development and Research Center (BPPTKG) head Subandriyo said Merapi was experiencing a change in behavior, and that this had also happened after an eruption in 1872.

“Merapi has returned to its ‘normal’ state of 1883,” said Subandriyo.

He added that residents could still carry out their daily activities as usual, but they should remain alert for signs of deteriorating conditions.