Volcano death toll climbs to 44
Reported death toll climbs to 44
Mount Merapi has spewed ash almost continuously since midday Wednesday
Merapi's plume is drifting south over Central Java
Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano belched a steady stream of gas and ash Thursday, unleashing a pair of powerful eruptions into the morning sky, as disaster officials announced five more people had died.
The hot clouds hovered over Central Java, rising up to 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) and then drifting to the south toward Kali Gendol, Kali Kuning, Kali Boyong, Kali Krasak, Kali Bedok, according to the Indonesian Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Disaster Agency.
The plume from Merapi has gone on almost unabated since midday Wednesday, the agency said.
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Mount Merapi's lava and ash have killed at least 44 people and injured dozens more since it began erupting on October 26. Nearly 75,000 people have been evacuated, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Management Board.
Sky blanketed with ash by 'Ring of Fire'
Volcanic activity in Indonesia
Residents of a village 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away from the volcano were ordered to move for safety, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of risk disaster reduction.
Residents on the volcano have repeatedly fled, returned home to check on their houses and farm animals, and fled anew with each fresh eruption.
CNN iReport: Volcanic ash chokes Indonesian city
Because of rains, geological officials are warning residents and evacuees not to go to areas within the danger zone or near rivers.
Rainfall can convert volcanic ash to lahar, or mudflow, caused by the volcano.
There have been reports of mudflow headed down riverbeds on Merapi slopes, and Indonesian authorities are warning of the dangers of lahar with more rains expected on Thursday.
The 3,000-meter Merapi is famously unpredictable. An eruption killed two people in 2006 and another killed more than 60 villagers in 1994. About 1,300 people died when Merapi erupted in 1930.
In addition, last week, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia's coast, triggering a tsunami and killing at least 449 people. Hundreds more were injured.