Agencies Keep Close Eye on Mount Soputan Eruption
Government officials said on Sunday that they were closely monitoring the effects of ash from the eruption of Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi, even as they maintained no evacuation was needed.
Soputan, one of Sulawesi’s most active volcanoes, entered the eruptive phase at 11 p.m. on Saturday night and erupted at 6:03 a.m. on Sunday morning.
The eruption sent searing gas up to 6,000 meters into the air, released hot volcanic rocks and spewed heat clouds that were heading west. National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the government warned locals to stay six kilometers away from the center of the crater.
“But there is no need for evacuation because the nearest residents are living some eight kilometers from the mountain,” Sutopo said.
Christian Sumampouw, spokesman for North Sulawesi Province, said Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang visited the affected areas on Sunday morning.
“The governor, with officials from the local disaster mitigation agency and the health agency, have visited villages in the districts of Southeast Minahasa and South Minahasa to monitor the effects of the eruptions directly and to distribute masks to the locals,” said Christian.
He said the most affected villages from the eruptions were Silian and Lobu, which are populated by some 400 families. Both villages are located in the Southeast Minahasa District.
“The ash is quite thick and can disturb people’s health,” he said. “But, we can handle the effects of this disaster well because every related party is working together.”
He said that they had enough masks, food and medicine for one week.
“For the moment, we recommend people who are living at the foot of the mountain stay at home, calm down, and keep coordinating with related officials in their area,” he said.
Bambang Ervan, from the Ministry of Transportation, said that Sam Ratulangi Airport in the capital of Manado was temporarily shut down for three hours following the eruption.
“The airport was shut down from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. because the ash can disturb the function of the airplanes’ engines,” Bambang said. “If there were flights that were scheduled to arrive in Sam Ratulangi Airport around that time, the flights would have been diverted to the nearest airport.”
Christian said the airport was operating normally by 3 p.m.
Soputan last erupted in 2008, causing no fatalities.