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Nature: Thousands alerted as Indonesian volcano Semeru erupts violently

Nature: Thousands alerted as Indonesian volcano Semeru erupts violently

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Virendra Pandit

 

 

New Delhi: Some volcanoes in Indonesia, an archipelago comprising nearly 18,000 islands having dozens of volcanos, are reported to be going active. On Monday, thousands of residents in Indonesia’s East Java were put on high alert after a violent eruption at the island’s tallest volcano, Semeru, prompted authorities to impose an 8-kilometer no-go zone and forced evacuations of entire villages.

The 3,676-metre volcano erupted at 2.46 pm local time on Sunday (0746GMT).

According to media reports, the active volcano spewed out a ‘river of lava’.

The provincial search and rescue agency deployed teams to the worst-affected areas near Mount Semeru to assess the damage, with low rainfall giving some reprieve, the media quoting Tholib Vatelehan, a Basarnas spokesperson, said.

“Yesterday, the rainfall level was high, causing all the material from the top of the mountain to come down. But today, so far, there’s no rain, so it’s relatively safe,” he said.

They have reported no casualties or any immediate disruption to air travel so far

Footage shot by residents showed Mt. Semeru spewing a giant cloud of grey ash high above its crater, which later engulfed the mountain and surrounding rice paddy fields, roads, and bridges, and turned the sky black. A video shared by the Environment Ministry on Twitter showed a pyroclastic flow of lava, rocks, and hot gases gushing down the mountainside.

People fled the eruption on motorcycles, with almost 2,500 people forced to evacuate, officials said.

Indonesia’s volcanology and geological hazard mitigation agency on Sunday raised the alert for Mt. Semeru to the highest level. It also warned the people not to approach the mountain summit within 8 km (5 miles), or 500 meters of riversides because of the risks of lava flows.

Semeru erupted last year also, killing over 50 people and displacing thousands more.

Recently, Indonesia’s volcano Merapi also spewed out volcanic lava and ash, forcing hundreds to evacuate the area. Another volcano, known as That, killed 48 people.

The fresh Semeru eruption, some 640 km (400 miles) east of the national capital, Jakarta, follows a series of earthquakes in the west of Java, including one last month that killed over 300 people.

An archipelago inhabited by 270 million people, that sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on the planet.

With 142 volcanoes, it has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano, including 8.6 million within 10km (6.2 miles), the media reported.

 

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