Thousands Evacuated In Sumatra As Indonesia Upgrades Alert On Mount Sinabung

Thousands of people have been evacuated on the Indonesian island of Sumatra after authorities upgraded the threat posed by a volcano to the highest level, officials say.

The alert status of Mount Sinabung was raised late on Tuesday after a “sharp rise” in volcanic activity, national disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Mount Sinabung Observation Station chief Armen Putra said the amount of ash, smoke and rock spewing from the volcano has ramped up significantly since Sunday.

Military based in the area said soldiers and police had evacuated 2,730 residents on Wednesday from four villages within a danger zone around the south and south-east of the volcano.

“Volcanic activity is still high, triggering tremors,” district military commander Lieutenant-Colonel Asep Sukarna said.

“Yesterday we worried that the volcano would send hot ash clouds down over the villages, so we moved 2,730 people to a safer place.”

He said people were aware of the danger and left in an orderly fashion, adding that there were no further orders at this stage to evacuate other villages.

Those displaced are now in temporary shelter 13 kilometres from the volcano.

Nearly 10,000 people have had to evacuate their homes since Sinabung burst back into life in 2013 after a period of inactivity.

While some were able to return once volcanic activity died down, others have been forced to remain in shelters.

An eruption in February 2014 killed at least 16 people and sent thousands more fleeing for safety.

Sinabung is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of seismic activity running around the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

The country’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of eruptions in 2010.



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