Eruptions at Indonesia’s deadly volcano appeared to be intensifying Thursday as towering clouds of ash shot from the crater with a thunder-like roar, dusting towns up to 150 miles (250 kilometers) away and forcing motorists to switch on their headlights during the day. The death toll climbed to 44 – with six more lives recorded in the last 24 hours – and the government repeated orders to airlines to stay clear of the unpredictable mountain. Mount Merapi, which means “Fire Mountain,” is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. But even those who have dedicated a lifetime to studying it have been baffled by its erratic behavior since its first Oct. 26 eruption, which has been followed by more than a dozen other powerful blasts and thousands of volcanic tremors. They’d earlier hoped that would result in a long, slow release of energy. “But we have no idea what to expect now,” said Surono, a state volcanologist, adding that he has never seen the needle on Merapi’s seismograph working with such intensity. The fear is that a new lava dome forming in the mouth of the crater will collapse, triggering a deadly surge of 600 degree Fahrenheit (1,000 Celsius) ash and gas – known to experts as pyroclastic flows – at speeds of 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour). Villagers with their faces covered with volcanic ash, flee their homes on motorcycles following the eruption of Mount Merapi in Klaten, Central Java, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Indonesia's deadly volcano erupted Wednesday with its biggest blast yet, shooting searing ash miles into the sky and forcing the hasty evacuations of panicked villagers and emergency shelters near the base. Mount Merapi spews volcanic material as seen from Klaten, Indonesia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Searing gas and molten lava poured from Indonesia's deadly volcano in an explosion three times as powerful as last week's devastating blast, chasing people from villages and emergency shelters along its slope. A woman wearing a mask examines her house covered with ash after the first eruption on October 26, taken at Kaliadem village on the slope of Merapi mountain in Sleman on October 31, 2010. Indonesia's most active volcano which had claimed at least 36 lives last week spewed more searing clouds of gas and ash on October 31, triggering fresh panic among locals.