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Indonesian volcano erupts for second time

Monday, August 30, 2010 02:25:52 PM, IANS

Mount Sinabung erupts, spewing a vast cloud of smoke and ash high into the air for a second day after springing to life
for the first time in four centuries on August 29

(Photo: AFP)

Two dead, thousands flee as volcano erupts in Indonesia

One person died and thousands were evacuated Sunday as a volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted for the first time in 400 years, shooting black smoke and ash up to 1,500 metres into   »

Jakarta: Mount Sinabung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra Monday erupted for a second time in as many days, forcing thousands of residents to join the more than 20,000 already in evacuation centres, officials said.

The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Centre said the eruption occurred at 6.30 a.m. (2330 GMT Sunday), belching a column of smoke up to 2,000 metres into the sky.

The 2,451-metre-high volcano erupted for the first time in more than four centuries early Sunday, prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents from its slopes.

Sunday’s eruption came only hours after the local government allowed residents to return to their homes, assuring them that the volcano was not dangerous.

The volcano, about 1,300 km north-west of Jakarta, has been seen heating up since late Thursday, causing people living on the slopes to flee.

Two people died in the first eruption, and the number of refugees had reached more than 27,000 by mid-Monday, said Muhammad Irsal of the province’s Red Cross chapter.

A number of the evacuees were suffering from respiratory problems, fever and diarrhoea, he said.

“We desperately need more masks, mineral water, medicines and foodstuffs,” Irsal said.

Vulcanologists upgraded Sinabung’s danger status to the top level minutes before Sunday’s eruption, and revised its status from a dormant to an active volcano.

“We’re unable to predict for how long the eruption will last,” vulcanologist Mohammad Hendrasto told DPA. “We also cannot predict whether there will be a larger eruption, or if the activities will progressively decline.”

“But we’ve installed equipment to monitor further developments,” Hendrasto said.

As many as 31 villages are located inside the official danger area, with 12 hamlets within six km of the crater classified as the most dangerous place, requiring all inhabitants to be evacuated.

Volcanic ash was reported to have covered hectares of crops, but Hendrasto said there were no immediate reports of damage on cropland.

Besides ordering the evacuations, experts also warned residents to wear face masks and told people living along rivers to watch out for possible lava-induced floods.

Indonesia has the highest density of volcanoes in the world with about 500 in the 5,000-km-long archipelago nation. Nearly 130 are active and 69 are listed as dangerous.





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