Villagers burned incense and floated offerings to the spirits, hoping to ward off an eruption of Mount Merapi, but volcanic activity intensified on Monday to its highest level yet — with one blast sending debris more than two miles down the slope.
A scientist warned on Sunday that a growing lava dome could collapse. On Monday, as activity increased, villagers who had not left were told to stand by for possible evacuation and waited in groups by the side of the road on the slopes of the volcano.
Also of interest:
Mount Merapi - A blog from a reporter on the ground covering the eruption:
The Javanese believe there's a spirit kingdom at the top of the mountain. They have been waiting for its king to give the signal to evacuate. Like many of Indonesia's island cultures, people on the mountain have preserved and interwoven ancient animist beliefs with Islam. So thousands of people have been staying at home in spite of the government's warnings to get out of the risk area. A few weeks ago, I saw transport trucks full of men wearing their Saturday best batik shirts headed down the road. My guide said they were going to a special feast meant to pray for safety from the mountain.