Mount Sinabung Erupts Again, Forcing Villagers to Flee
[Updated 7:45 p.m.]
More than 1,000 villagers fled the slopes of Mount Sinabung early Sunday morning as the North Sumatra volcano spewed ash 7,000 meters into the sky.
“1,293 people who live around Mt. Sinabung have evacuated to safer places after the eruption early on Sunday,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told the Jakarta Globe. Some 891 of those who fled were from the village of Mardinding, and the rest were from the village of Desa Sukameriah, he said.
At 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, the volcano erupted yet again, according to reports from military officials stationed in the village of Bekerah, two kilometers from the crater.
Sutopo said the numbers of refugees would increase as more people from the villages of Bekerah, Simacem and Sukameriah fled to to Naman Teran, where the evacuees were gathering. The government is still trying to determine just how many evacuees there will be.
“There are still villagers who have stayed in their houses,” Sutopo said, despite the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation’s (PVMBG) evacuation recommendation. “Military and police officials are currently patrolling the Bekerah village.”
The villagers will not be compelled to leave, but military and police would offer assistance to those who chose to, Sutopo said.
The PVMBG increased the status of the volcano from “level II: alert” to “level III: ready” following a marked increase in seismic activity and volcanic ash levels early Sunday morning.
Between midnight and 6 a.m. on Sunday, observers documented 12 volcanic quakes, three low-frequency quakes, five quakes caused by bursts of smoke, and six other seismic quakes. The tremors continue, as does the release of smoke.
According to Sutopo, the BNPB has suggested that the Karo district head hold a meeting with all relevant offices to set emergency conditions, set up command posts and an emergency response command, follow through with PVMBG recommendations and coordinate with the North Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD). Karo district lacks its own disaster mitigation office.
All BPBD emergency vehicles have been redirected to the site of the eruption, Sutopo said.