Indonesia’s most active volcano has erupted, with lava and burning gas sending a river of clouds 3,000 meters (9,850 ft) below its slope.
Officials said the sound of the explosion could be heard 18 miles (30 km) away. No casualties were reported.
It was Mount Merapi’s largest lava flow since authorities raised its danger level in November, said Hanik Humida, head of the volcano and geological hazard center in the nearby city of Yogyakarta.
He said that the lava dome of the volcano was rising rapidly, causing hot lava and gas clouds to flow down its slope.
After morning rains fell to ashes in many villages. More than 150 people living within 3 miles of the pit, mostly elderly, had reached the barracks set up for the displaced.
In November, authorities evacuated about 2,000 people living on the mountain in Magellang and Sleeman districts, but most have returned so far.
The alert is being maintained at the second highest level, and officials told people to stay out of a danger zone around the pit.
The 2,968-meter-long volcano on the densely populated Java Island is the most active of dozens of Indonesian volcanoes and has erupted late. The last major explosion of Merapi, in 2010, killed 347 people.
Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, suffers from earthquakes and volcanic activity as it sits alongside the so-called “Ring of Fire” of the Pacific, a horseshoe-shaped chain of seismic fault lines.