A series of volcanic eruptions on Mount Sinabung in Indonesia’s western Sumatra Island has prompted over 10,000 villagers in the vicinity of the mountain to flee their homes in recent days.
Disaster agency official Tri Budiarto said that the local residents who have left “were from six villages located in the danger zone south and southeast of the volcano.”
The evacuees are sheltering in government buildings and temples in the town of Kabanjahe, around 10 kilometers (six miles) from Sinabung.
Local authorities issued a warning after experts detected a sharp increase in seismic activity in the area in early June.
The volcano had been dormant for years; however, its volcanic activities re-started two years ago. It fully erupted over the weekend, spewing hot ash and rocks into the air and covering homes in the vicinity with a coating of ash.
Head of a volcano observation post, Armen Putra, said, “We could still feel tremors. Ash one to two millimeters thick covered roads and homes located 15 kilometers away.”
“It could take weeks before it eases, but for now, it is dangerous for people living nearby so we have recommended for them to evacuate,” he said.
Last year, a huge eruption at Sinabung killed 16 people and damaged the region’s infrastructure, farming and tourism industry.
Sinabung is one of the 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia; it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of seismic activity running around the basin of the Pacific Ocean.