My heart is moved by all I cannot save: So much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world
Published on 13 April 2011
News 22 January
Serious threat to Prambanan because the nearby rivers carrying large amounts of volcanic debris
UNESCO has been asked to urgently help save ancient Hindu temples, which are reportedly threatened by volcanic ash flows from Mount Merapi on an Indonesian island.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, said in a press statement in Nevada (USA) that, “these ancient temples are world archaeological treasures and it is our moral duty to preserve these for the coming generations.”
The Prambanan temple complex was built in the 9th century AD and includes temples dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva with reliefs depicting episodes from the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu epic. And, as if lifted from the pages of such a legend of destruction and rebirth, fears have arisen that powerful flowing volcanic mud produced by Mount Merapi – the volcano erupted in October and November – could now destroy the historic structures.
Dewi S. Sayudi, an official with the Volcanic Technology Development and Research Center, said that there is a serious threat to Prambanan because the nearby rivers carrying large amounts of volcanic debris, called lahar. (The Jakarta Post reports), “The lahar that we have seen so far is just the tip. The flows carry only a small portion of the thick layers of volcanic debris from the slopes of Merapi,” .
Lahars act like concrete, flowing when carried by water but becoming solid when deposited on land.
The eruptions in October and November, Merapi’s most powerful in a century, were estimated to have spewed more than 150 million cubic metres of volcanic debris consisting of large rocks, stones, sand and ash.
Hours of heavy rain over the peak of the world’s most active volcano turned the thick layers of heated volcanic debris into powerful mud-flows that sped their way down the slope, sweeping away all in their path.
A thick deposit of volcanic debris extending 15 kilometres along the banks of the Gendol River has raised the water level dramatically. This has resulted in a vast wall of volcanic debris 1.5 kilometres in width and more than 10 kilometres long flowing to the Opak River.
Despite the threat, no preparations have been made so far by Prambanan Temple officials, who continue to monitor the flow of the Opak River as rainfall increases as Indonesia heads into the peak of the wet season.
The head of the Serayu-Opak River Region Agency, Bambang Hargono, said all the dams set up to stop volcanic debris were at full capacity.
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