WATCH: Indonesian volcano spews ash 2,000 meters into the air in new eruption

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Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, erupted Thursday, spewing a column of ash 2,000 meters into the air, while threatening the roughly 24 million people who live in the vicinity with cold lava flooding.

The eruption began at 5:16 local time (10:16 GMT) on the Indonesian island of Java. The volcano’s alert status was raised to one level above normal, indicating no immediate danger to surrounding areas, though a 3km radius exclusion zone has been established around the volcano as a precaution. Eyewitness video from the scene shows stunned locals in awe of the eruption.

“The eruption lasted 150 seconds, spewing smoke and a 2,000-meter-high ash column,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Agus Wibowo said in a statement on Thursday.

Authorities advised commercial planes to take care and avoid the immediate airspace around the volcano as ash rained down on a 10-square kilometer area.

Mount Merapi has been erupting for centuries with the last major one on May 11, 2019 forcing large scale evacuations. The deadly 2010 eruption claimed the lives of 340 people, almost half of the roughly 800 volcano-related fatalities in Indonesia in the past decade, while some 60,000 people were displaced. 

According to the country’s Geological Disaster Technology Research and Development Center (BPPTKG), Merapi’s volcanic activity increased between mid-December 2019 and mid-January 2020.

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Indonesia is a nation comprised of over 17,000 islands and islets on which sit 130 active volcanoes. The country is located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ where the collision of tectonic plates causes frequent and often violent seismic activity including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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