Indonesian scientists have downgraded the alert status of Mount Merapi from its highest level after it killed more than 320 people in a series of violent eruptions that started in late October.
“The decision was taken this morning at 9:00am (local time) as its eruption activities continue to slow down,” the head of the vulcanology office in Yogyakarta, Subandrio, said.
He says more than 250,000 people who have been living in evacuation shelters are now allowed to return to their homes, except for those who live in the worst-affected district, Sleman, on the southern slope.
“The volcano’s threat is now limited to only some parts on the southern slope. People are not allowed to do activities there,” he said.
Many of the dead were buried under fast-flowing torrents of boiling hot gas and rock that incinerated villages on southern slopes when the volcano exploded on November 5, its biggest eruption in over 100 years.
The volcano, located on the central island of Java, killed around 1,300 people in 1930 but experts say the latest eruptions are its biggest since 1872.