(Mount Merapi, Indonesia) Mount Merapi volcano, located on the Indonesian island of Java, exploded with plumes of gas, ash, and rock today. Merapi, or "Fire Mountain", has been threatening to blast for weeks, as lava and gas clouds began flowing from its crater in the past three days.
One eruption sent debris four kilometers down the mountain's western flank, said volcanologist Ratdomo Purbo.
Purbo said that the lava dome, created by multiple individual lava flows, still remains intact. The collapse of the lava dome could set off pyroclastic flows, or the superheated flow of molten rock, ash and gases.
Thousands of people living in nearby villages have already been moved to emergency shelters, and many more are waiting for trucks to take them to safety. About 30,000 people live in the immediate vicinity of the volcano.
The gas clouds, which can reach temperatures of nearly 900 degrees, are fatal to anyone they envelop, presenting a greater threat than the volcano's lava flow. 66 people were killed by deadly volcanic gas in a 1984 eruption of Merapi, while 1300 people died in a 1930 eruption.