Merapi volcano
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Merapi volcano
At least 500 people were removed from the island of Java, Indonesia, today after the erupting Merapi volcano began to expel thick clouds of smoke, the Indonesian Geology Agency said.

The authorities evacuated an area of five kilometres around the volcano.

"So far the potential danger does not exceed five kilometres," said Hanik Humaira, director of the Indonesian Geology Agency, in a statement.

Activity at the Merapi, 400 kilometres southwest of Jakarta, began to increase last Thursday, according to the Indonesian Geology Agency, which indicated that the volcano was erupting.

The agency's director then asked the population to remain vigilant and established a security perimeter of five kilometres around the volcano.

The Merapi, 2,968 metres high, lies on the border between the special region of Yogyakarta and Central Java province, and is the country's most active volcano and one of the most active in the world.

The last major eruption of the Merapi occurred in 2010 and killed 347 people, forcing 400,000 people to leave their homes.

The Indonesian archipelago is based on the so-called "ring of fire" of the Pacific, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that registers thousands of earthquakes a year, in most cases of low magnitude, and where 127 volcanoes are active.