Two fresh eruptions at Indonesia’s Mount Lokon

July 19th, 2011 - 12:40 am ICT by BNO News  

MANADO, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Indonesia’s Mount Lokon, which is located on the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi, on Monday erupted twice, as thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate the area, officials said.

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said the eruptions were only 10 minutes apart. The first one was registered at 1:24 p.m. local time, and the second at 1:34 p.m., Antara news agency reported.

BNPB’s Data and Information Center Sutopo Purwo Nugroho chief said the first eruption produced a thick gray cloud that rose to a height of 200 meters (656 feet), while the second one spewed out a 600-meter (1,968-feet) ash cloud above the Tompaluan crater.

Wind currents have been taking the ash clouds northwest, as more emergency teams were deployed by the BNPB to help residents. Currently, at least 4,146 people have evacuated the region, but evacuations may continue as Mount Lokon’s activity was still intense. The government has ordered residents living within a radius of 3.5 kilometers (2.17 miles) from the mountain to evacuate.

Mount Lokon began erupting on Sunday, and as its activity has continually increased. More than 2,100 people were forced to evacuate by Wednesday afternoon. The evacuation was carried out by North Sulawesi’s Disaster Management Agency, local authorities, the Indonesian Red Cross and military personnel.

An explosive eruption on Thursday evening, at around 11.30 p.m. local time, forced thousands more to flee the region around the volcano as panic spread. Officials have also opened another 15 evacuation shelters in addition to five which had been previously established.

Thursday’s eruption sent volcanic ash up to 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) high and spreading hot lava to the slope. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the area, but one person was previously killed during an evacuation of residents near the volcano.

Officials have called on residents to keep calm and follow instructions announced by local officials and to not believe rumors. Lokon is located some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from Manado, Sulawesi’s second-largest city, and is located on the island’s northern tip.

Dozens of active volcanoes in Indonesia are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, known for frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Next to Mount Lokon is its volcanic twin, Mount Empung, just 2.2 kilometers (1.3 miles) away.

One of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes is Mount Merapi, which is located on the island of Java near Jogjakarta, the country’s second-most visited area after Bali. Last year, more than 300 people were killed in a series of eruptions between October and November that also displaced over 300,000 people.

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