Not a lot of time for me today, but needless to say, there is still a lot of action at Merapi. I've opened this thread after seeing the 637 comments from yesterday. Sadly, the death toll from the eruption has now reached 156 with the ash plume reaching ~6 km / 20,000 feet and James Reynolds, on the ground near Merapi, is reporting the eruption is still in full swing. Some airlines have decided to resume flights to Jakarta as well. The images of the ash near the volcano are remarkable and heartbreaking, with the entire landscape covered in the grey Merapi ash.
However, even as bad as this eruption has seemed, remember that this is very normal for a volcano like Merapi. It is a composite arc volcano that can produce significant ash and pyroclastic flows - just looking at its history you can see frequent eruptions that produced tephra volumes that are likely comparable to what we are seeing now. This is not anomalous for the volcano, but the location of Merapi, with its proximity to a large population (on the most populous island in the world), has made the human aspect of the eruption amplify its volcanic. It is much like Eyjafjallajökull in the sense that a moderate volcanic eruption (VEI 3-4) has captured the world's attention, but we should not get lost in any sensationalism.
Top left: The dark plume from Merapi on November 6, 2010.