Indonesia: Mount Ruang volcano crisis far from over as eruptions forces thousands of people to evacuate


Mount Ruang volcano is seen during the eruption from Tagulandang island, Indonesia, Thursday, April 18, 2024. Indonesian authorities closed an airport and residents left homes near an erupting volcano Thursday due to the dangers of spreading ash, falling rocks, hot volcanic clouds and the possibility of a tsunami. - AP

JAKARTA (Vietnam News/ANN): The Ruang volcano in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province erupted again during the weekend with a 250m high column of ash, forcing Sam Ratulangi International Airport near the volcano to close and 11,000 people living in the affected area to evacuate.

Indonesia's volcanology agency warned that major eruptions were still possible, after the volcano erupted several times this week.

The threat from an Indonesian volcano that has erupted more than half a dozen times is not over, the archipelago’s top volcanology official told AFP, as the crater belched another ash tower on Saturday.

With earthquakes and volcanic eruptions already recorded, this crisis is not over, said agency head Hendra Gunawan. The magma flow is still moving from underground to the surface. Therefore, it is not surprising if eruptions still occur, Gunawan added.

That forced the authorities to warn that major eruptions could still take place, despite the crater calming since it stirred a spectacular mix of lava, ash and lightning earlier in the week, raining down molten rocks on nearby villages.

“With volcanic earthquakes recorded, this crisis is not over yet,” said agency head Gunawan.

“It indicates magmatic fluid supply is still moving from the depth to the surface. So it’s not surprising if eruptions still occur.”

The agency recommended that people wear masks to avoid respiratory problems.

That forced the authorities to warn that major eruptions could still take place, despite the crater calming since it stirred a spectacular mix of lava, ash and lightning earlier in the week, raining down molten rocks on nearby villages.

Ruang volcano, 725m high above sea level, is currently the only volcano among the more than 100 Indonesian ones placed at the highest warning level in the 4-level warning system. Local authorities have stipulated a restricted zone within 6 km around this volcano.

Authorities have kept a 6km exclusion zone around the volcano.

More than 6,000 residents of neighbouring Tagulandang island, home to around 20,000 people, were evacuated outside the exclusion zone, a local official said on April 19.

Authorities previously estimated more than 11,000 people would need to be evacuated because of the warning of volcanic rocks, hot clouds and lava flows.

Indonesia is prone to volcanic activity because it sits along the “Ring of Fire”, a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean. - Vietnam News/ANN

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