Indonesia: Sumatra Volcano Erupts For The First Time In Four Centuries

Volcano erupts in Indonesia forcing thousands from homes

Villagers watch as a plume of smoke emerges from Mount Sinabung. Photograph: Tarmizy Harva/Reyters

(Reuters) — A volcano has erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra for the first time in four centuries, sending smoke 1,500 metres into the air and prompting the evacation of thousands of residents.

There are no reports of casualties so far, and aviation in the area is unaffected.

Mount Sinabung, in the north of Sumatra, began erupting around midnight after rumbling for several days. Lava was overflowing from its crater, the head of Indonesia’s vulcanology centre told Reuters news agency. The agency has placed the volcano on red alert, its highest level.

“Despite decreasing activities since the eruption, we haven’t downgraded the status level,” said Surono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“This is the first time since 1600 that Sinabung has erupted, and we have little knowledge in terms of its eruptive patterns and general forms.”

Officials evacuated at least 12,000 people from high-risk areas on the slopes of the 2,460 metre-high volcano to temporary shelters. The area around the volcano is largely agricultural.

The health ministry put medical posts on standby and distributed face masks, though there were no reports of casualties, according to Mudjiarto, head of the health ministry’s crisis centre.

There were no reports of disruption to flights in and out of the nearest big city to the volcano, Medan.

Indonesia is located on the so-called Pacific ring of fire, an arc of volcanoes and geological faultlines surrounding the Pacific basin.

Sunday 29 August 2010 09.55 BST

Source: The Guardian

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