Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mt. Merapi threatens to erupt

Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano belched smoke, steam and lava Tuesday and volcanologists said a major eruption is possible.

Located on heavily-populated Java island, Merapi last blew its top in 1992 killing 60 people. During the 1930 eruption about 1,300 were killed.

Only 18 miles from the million-plus population of Yogyakarta and 250 miles from the capital of Jakarta, Merapi is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Authorities are preparing for possible evacuations and relief supplies have been moved into place.

Indonesia sits in the "Ring of Fire," a region known for its intense volcanic activity. The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora on the eastern Indonesian island of Sumbawa is believed to be the largest in recorded history.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the neighboring Philippines, which is also situated in the Ring of Fire, was the second largest eruption of this century and by far the largest to affect a densely-populated area.

Somce scientists even believe a mega-eruption of Mount Toba on the island of Borneo some 80,000 years ago caused the last Ice Age.

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