Indonesia to evacuate thousands as volcano simmers

SLEMAN, Indonesia Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:37am EDT

A view of the Mount Merapi volcano emitting smoke is seen from Cangkringan village in the district of Sleman, central Java October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

A view of the Mount Merapi volcano emitting smoke is seen from Cangkringan village in the district of Sleman, central Java October 25, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Dwi Oblo

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SLEMAN, Indonesia (Reuters) - Authorities will evacuate more than 11,000 villagers living on the slopes of the Mount Merapi volcano near Yogyakarta on Java after the alert status for an eruption was raised to the highest level, officials said.

"We will evacuate 11,491 people living within 10 km from the top. We will work together with the military and police to evacuate them," local regent Sri Purnomo told Elshinta radio.

Authorities have prepared seven safety shelters and plan to evacuate the villagers Monday afternoon, the radio reported.

Indonesia's vulcanology and geological disaster mitigation center raised the volcano's alert status to the highest alert level Monday, agency head Surono told Reuters.

"We recommended evacuation for people living on the slopes, especially the southern, southeastern and eastern slopes," Surono said.

He added the mountain had already released twice as much energy in recent days than in recent eruptions.

"We cannot estimate when it will erupt or how big the eruption will be, but we had to increase the volcano's status to top alert based on its activities," Surono said.

In a 1994 eruption, 70 people were killed in an eruption when the volcano's lava dome collapsed. The volcano killed 1,300 people in 1930.

(Reporting by Telly Nathalia; Editing by Andrew Marshall)

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