JAKARTA, Indonesia

Volcanic activity at Mount Merapi in Central Java remained high Friday since its status was raised Nov. 5 to Level III, according to the Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center (BPPTKG). 

The Center’s head, Hanik Humaida, advised residents nearby to remain vigilant in anticipation of further volcanic activity.

“Based on seismic data, ground deformation, and others, the volcanic activities remain high, even though it did not increase significantly. We need to pay attention to this,” Humaida said during a news conference.

BPPTKG said Merapi has spewed hot ash clouds and volcanic materials several times in recent days. It even spewed volcanic materials as far as three kilometers (about 2 miles) from the crater’s peak.

It predicted if an eruption is explosive, the strength would not be the same as one in 2010.

The 2010 eruption was the volcano’s deadliest in nearly a century, leaving more than 300 people dead.

Humaida urged a halt to mining activities in disaster-prone areas and called for tourism activities to be suspended.

The Deputy for Prevention of National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) Lilik Kurniawan said threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and La Nina has worsened the situation.

A total of 1,457 people and nearly 3,000 livestock have been evacuated from nearby villages in Sleman, Magelang, Klaten, and Boyolali.

The elderly, children, and toddlers, pregnant women, and those with disabilities were evacuated to temporary refugee camps as a precaution.

Kurniawan assured residents that the government has implemented health protocols during the evacuation.

“All evacuees are required to undergo swab tests,” said Kurniawan.

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