More than 1,200 villagers living near Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra, Indonesia, were forced to evacuate on Monday after the volcano erupted over the weekend, causing trails of hot ash to flow down the mountain. Earlier this month, authorities raised the alert level for the volcano to the highest, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
With the latest evacuation, the total number of villagers ordered to move away from homes has reached nearly 4,000 this month, AFP reported, adding that no injuries have been reported. According to the Australian, the evacuated villagers reside between 1.86 and 3.1 miles from the crater.
"Two villages with 1,274 people were evacuated today to safer locations around 10 kilometers away," Asep Sukarna, a local military commander, told AFP on Monday, adding that the people were taken to settlements south of the volcano. "We plan to evacuate five to six more villages in the coming days, that's around 2,500 residents."
Usually, hot clouds released from Mount Sinabung’s eruptions move either south or southeast. However, there was a difference on Sunday, the third day of the eruptions, when the hot clouds simultaneously moved to the south and southeast, the Jakarta Post reported, citing Deri Alhidayat, who works at Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center in Mount Sinabung.
“The hot cloud releases to the south reached 3,500 meters, or farther than the ones in the southeast, which reached 2,500 meters. This is because the lava dome is in the southern side of Mt. Sinabung,” Alhidayat said, according to Jakarta Post.
Mount Sinabung, one of the 130 volcanoes in Indonesia, has been erupting sporadically since 2010 after remaining dormant for 400 years. In February last year, an eruption at the volcano killed 17 people.
"From the latest data, the volume of Mt. Sinabung’s lava dome has reached 3.3 million cubic meters. Eruptions previously occurred have not yet fully abolished its lava dome; thus, there is still a potential for massive eruptions," Alhidayat reportedly said.
Nearly 6,200 people are living in temporary shelters since 2014, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said, according to the Australian.