Hundreds evacuated near erupting volcano

Worrying sight: Mount Ibu spewing volcanic ash into the air during its eruption as seen from Gam Ici village in West Halmahera, North Maluku. — AFPWorrying sight: Mount Ibu spewing volcanic ash into the air during its eruption as seen from Gam Ici village in West Halmahera, North Maluku. — AFP

Hundreds of people living near an erupting volcano in eastern Indonesia have been evacuated after authorities raised its alert status to the highest level, an official said.

Authorities raised the alert status for Mount Ibu, located on remote Halmahera island, to the highest level of a four-tiered system on Thursday after recording two huge eruptions for the second day in a row.

Residents in seven villages near Ibu – which spewed ash and smoke 5,000m into the sky – began evacuating to several shelters late Thursday after authorities raised the alert status, local disaster mitigation agency official Muhammad Ade Fabanyo said.

“Until today, the evacuees continue to arrive and as of this morning, the preliminary data that we have is around 400 people (evacuated),” Ade said yesterday.

He said the evacuation was a “preventive” measure taken by authorities since the residents were living around 7km from the volcano – within the exclusion zone set by officials.

Ibu erupted again yesterday morning, spewing a tower of volcanic ash 4,000m above its peak, the country’s geology agency head Muhammad Wafid said.

Authorities advised residents and tourists to stay out of the 4-7km exclusion zone and to wear a face mask in case of falling ash.

Ibu is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanos, erupting more than 21,000 times last year.

More than 700,000 people lived on Halmahera island as of 2022, according to official figures.

Last month, Mount Ruang in North Sulawesi province erupted more than half a dozen times, forcing thousands of residents of nearby islands to evacuate. — AFP

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