The restless Mount Lokon volcano in northern Indonesia erupted Friday, spewing clouds of ash over a mile high into the sky, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Management Agency.
Local authorities warned residents and tourists to stay away from the volcano in North Sulawesi, according to the disaster management agency's spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Volcanic activity had been increasing since yesterday before it erupted this morning,'' Warno, a staff member at the Mount Lokon and Mahawu volcano observation post, told Indonesia's Antara News.
Warno, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said the eruption produced a loud thumping noise and spewed ash 6,561 feet into the air
Residents gathered on the streets in urban villages located near the volcano's crater, including the villages of Kinilow I, Kinilow, and Kakaskasen, Antara News reported.
Cloves and coffee are the staple crops of the more than 33,000 people who live along the fertile slopes of Mount Lokon.
The Indonesian volcano erupted over a dozen times last summer for the first time in 20 years, prompting officials to restrict the area to tourists. It had similar eruptions in October and December.
North Sulawesi province attracts tourists from around the globe - predominantly for the wealth of diving opportunities. Its waters are said to have 3,000 types of fish and 300 different species of coral. Regional tourism companies offer day hikes to Mount Lokon and nearby Mahawu volcanoes, which lie just 13 miles away from the provincial capital, Manado.
A two-mile exclusion zone has now been set up around the volcano.
A vast archipelago of 235 million people, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes as it sits atop the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped string of fault lines that edge the Pacific Ocean.
Mount Lokon is one of an estimated 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Its last major eruption in 1991 killed a Swiss hiker and forced thousands to flee their homes.
The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in 2010.