Government observers warn Indonesia's Mount Merapi may be deceiving

Government observers warned on Monday that Indonesia's Mount Merapi remained a danger to villagers living on its slopes despite an easing of volcanic activity at the mountain.

The 3,000-meter (9,800-foot) volcano has been rocked by a series of spectacular eruptions since May 13, regularly shooting out lava and deadly clouds of hot ash and debris.

Sugiono, one of the government observers watching Merapi around the clock, said that its crater continued to ooze glowing lava and spew ash up to 900 meters (1000 yards) into the air.

"Merapi is still a danger and the avalanches of hot clouds remain a threat," said Sugiono, who uses only one name.

Authorities say they have no plans to lift the evacuation order put in place last week that saw more than 5,000 people leave villages closest to the crater. Many others ignored the order, or have since returned home, saying they are bored with life in evacuation centers.

"Even though we have reports that Merapi activity has declined a bit, we call on people to stay in the safe zone," said Mardiyanto, the Central Java provincial governor.

Mount Merapi, which means "Fire Mountain," has erupted scores of times over the last 200 years, often with deadly results. It is one of the world's most active volcanoes, reports the AP.

I.L.