"All tourist destinations situated more than three kilometers from the volcano were safe and operational," Riyanta affirmed.
He said the volcanic ash and smoke that were ejected from the crater were moving to the west of Mount Merapi. Hence, all flights at Adisoetjipto International Airport will remain on schedule, the chief stressed.
"(Unlike the deadly magmatic blast), the phreatic eruption will affect limited locations, and will not disrupt road and air traffic," he emphasized.
However, Riyanta admitted that he was aware that heavy news coverage on the volcano would affect the number of tourist arrivals in the province.
"Our office is committed to providing updates and information on the volcano and its impact on tourist destinations," he noted, adding that the dangerous zone is situated within a three-kilometer radius from the crater.
Following the eruption, the tourist office has offered several alternative destinations, besides driving jeeps at the volcano (lava tour package).
The tourists, he stated, could take the "Breksi Cliff Jeep Tour" package, that will pass the Breksi Cliff, Banyu Nibo Temple, Ijo Temple, and Mount Api Purba. Other destinations include Mangunan Forest in Bantul, and Nglinggo Village in Kulon Progo.
On Thursday (May 24), Mount Merapi erupted again at 2:56 a.m. local time, producing a smoke column reaching a height of up to 6,000 meters.
"The height of the smoke column was 6,000 meters towards the west and it lasted four minutes. The roar could be heard from every observation post," the Yogyakarta technology development and research center for geological disaster (BPPTKG) said in a statement, Thursday.
Besides the smoke, the volcanic eruption also triggered sand rain in the Magelang area and thick ash rains affecting Srumbung, Sawangan, and Muntilan Borobudur.
Following eruptions for the past few days, Indonesia`s geological agency has leveled up Merapi`s alert status from normal to second highest "beware" level II.
Reported by Luqman Hakim