Mount Lokon Blasts Ash to the Sky
North Sulawesi’s Mount Lokon erupted and produced a loud blast that could be heard six kilometers away from the top of the Tompaluan crater.
The latest eruption was followed by loud thunder and a blast at 2:05 p.m. local time on Sunday.
The eruption spewed lava and volcanic ashes blown by the winds to the northeast, but it wasn’t clear how high the ashes were spewed into the sky because the mountain was covered by smoke.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said that Mount Lokon, which is located in Tomohon, continued to show increased activities. The mountain was still erupting as of late on Sunday.
“Mount Lokon erupted 41 times in September 2012 alone,” said Sutopo on Sunday, adding that it erupted three times on Friday.
The agency has issued a 2.5 kilometer radius ban and asked local residents to keep their distance from the Tompaluan crater. It has also banned people from climbing the mountain.
“The locals don’t have to evacuate, but they are asked to remain cautious. There are no casualties or any damages. BNPB and [the North Sulawesi Disaster Mitigation Office] have prepared everything since August and up to now,” said Sutopo.
BNPB said the eruption spurted debris 1,500 meters into the sky. The mountain also spewed lava materials 350 meters high and produced a loud blast. Mount Lokon is around 25 kilometers toward the southern part of Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi.
Head of Mount Lokon observation post Farid Sukendar Bima said that the ashes reached Pineleng and Tombulu subdistricts in Minahasa district. Local residents have been warned about the risk of being afflicted by respiratory ailments, known as ISPA.
“We have asked [residents] to remain cautious because Mount Lokon is still active and has continued to spew lava and ashes during the past two weeks,” Farid told BeritaSatu.com on Saturday.
Meanwhile, head of North Sulawesi Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) Hoyke Makarawung said that the amount of ashes blanketing the affected areas was insignificant. But the agency has reminded residents to remain cautious about the danger of ISPA. He urged residents living in ash-prone areas to wear masks.
Local residents who live near Mount Lokon said they have become accustomed to the eruption.
Jenny and Jhony K, local residents, said that they were no longer shocked by the eruption but were still on alert and asked for masks because of the ashes.
Last month BNPB also declared a 2.5 kilometer area around the blast site off limits to residents as the official alert remained at level three — one level away from the highest.
Three other Indonesian volcanoes were placed on high alert last month. Mount Soputan and Mount Karangetang, both in North Sulawesi, and Mount Gamalama, in Ternate, North Maluku, all showed signs of increased volcanic activity.
Mount Soputan erupted and threw debris 1,500 meters above the crater. The sound of the eruption could be heard 40 kilometers away, said Surono, head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center in Bandung.
At Mount Karangetang, located amid a chain of islands off the tip of North Sulawesi, a growing lava dome is visible at the volcano’s peak, he said. Residents are prohibited from venturing higher than 500 meters above sea level. Mount Gamalama also erupted this week, blanketing the town of Ternate with ash and debris.
Surono said the increased volcanic activity was likely related to a recent earthquake in the Philippines.
Local residents pushed on with their daily lives despite the eruptions.
Additional reporting from Suara Pembaruan