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Tuesday May 16, 2006

Keeping tabs on Indon volcano


PETALING JAYA: The Meteorological Services Department is closely monitoring Indonesia's Mount Merapi, which has been spewing increasingly more lava and volcanic gases since having been placed on high alert two days ago. 

Although Indonesia's most active volcano had not fully erupted, the department was monitoring the situation round the clock, a department spo-kesman said. 

However, she added, there was no reason to panic as experts believed the current eruptions were unlikely to affect Malaysia, and that it was too early to conclude if Malaysia would be affected – if at all – once the volcano fully erupts. 

She said the public and local authorities would be informed if ash from the volcanic eruption was about to affect Malaysia. 

“Our Indonesian counterparts are keeping us updated on the latest developments on Mount Merapi and we are coordinating our data with their's,” she added. 

The spokesman said the wind from the Java side was now turning south-westerly, which meant that it was blowing towards Sarawak, but “we are only experiencing light and variable winds.” 

“Satellite pictures have not picked up images of plumes of ash and they also do not show movement of ash beyond the region,” she said. 

Geologist Prof Dr Ibrahim Komo said the chances of particles and volcanic ash from Mt Merapi entering Malaysian airspace was slim, although he conceded the situation could change if the wind direction changed. 

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