Two Indonesian Volcanoes Awaken, Rattling Nerves
Two of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes erupted on Saturday, prompting the government to issue warnings to populations living near the affected mountains.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said on Sunday that new eruption started at Lokon in North Sulawesi and Gamalama at Ternate in North Maluku.
Lokon generated a 1,500-meter high ash plume and violent strombolian (low-level) activity with some lava flow, while Gamalama produced a shower of ashes that covered the nearby city.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for BNPB, said on Sunday that Lokon, located in North Sulawesi’s Tomohon area, erupted at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The explosion from the eruption shattered windows of the command post built to monitor the activities of the volcano, he said.
The agency, Sutopo said, had issued warnings to local administrations to prepare precautionary measures, and called on people to remain alert.
“The residents don’t have to be evacuated but they must not do any activities within the range of five kilometers from the volcano,” Sutopo said.
He said that the BNPB had asked the Tomohon administration to raise the awareness of residents.
Meanwhile, the Gamalama spurt sent ashes into the air for about 15 minutes at 11 p.m., before the wind carried the ashes toward the North Maluku capital of Ternate. “The ashes came down on the city, decreasing visibility to only 50 meters,” Sutopo said.
He said BNPB’s local branch went to the affected area and set up four stations to help people in the event of a larger eruption. “Here also, we don’t see any need to evacuate people. But we will stay on high alert,” the official said.
Lokon has erupted several times previously, with an explosion in July 2011 forcing more than 5,200 people to be evacuated.
The eruption created huge clouds of ash as high as 3,500 meters.
Lokon’s last deadly eruption was in 1991, when a Swiss tourist was killed.
Last December, Gamalama erupted, resulting in four villagers being killed and dozens others being hospitalized. About 1,000 residents were forced to evacuate.
The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the “Ring of Fire” between the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Earlier this month, there was volcanic activity at Lampung’s Anak Krakatau.