4 Nov 2010

Indonesia volcano erupts again

2:43 pm on 4 November 2010

Indonesia's Mt Merapi volcano has erupted with renewed strength - the fourth eruption in eight days - forcing the authorities to move refugee shelters further away.

The volcano on Wednesday spewed clouds of ash and gas five kilometres into the sky for more than an hour.

Scientists said the 2,914-metre mountain in central Java erupted with more force than the first eruption last week that killed at least 38 people and forced about 70,000 others to flee to shelters.

A relief worker told the AFP news agency that hundreds of people fled in panic from the refugee shelter in Glagaharjo, 10km from the peak, following the latest blast.

Witnesses said two huge explosions shook the surrounding countryside.

Officials expanded the danger zone around Mount Merapi and ordered people living closer than 15km to evacuate, while some international flights to and from the area have been cancelled.

A moderate 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck in Indonesian waters on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of damage, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake struck at 10.10pm local time in the Molucca Sea, about 200km northeast of Manado, at a depth of 70km. No tsunami warning was issued.

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck off eastern Indonesia earlier on Wednesday evening, beneath the sea 106km south-east of Kaimana in West Papua province. No damage was recorded.

Indonesia is battling the aftermath of a tsunami which killed more than 400 people in the western Mentawai islands last week.