Thousands evacuated amid tsunami threat as Indonesian volcano erupts again

Thousands evacuated amid tsunami threat as Indonesian volcano erupts again
  • PublishedMay 2, 2024

Eruptions at a remote Indonesian volcano have forced more than half a dozen airports to close with ash spreading as far as Malaysia, officials said.

Indonesian rescuers are racing to evacuate thousands due to tsunami fears.

Indonesia’s Ruang volcano spewed lava again on Tuesday, less than two weeks since it first erupted.

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation had warned the residents of Tagulandang island that a tsunami could be triggered by volcanic material collapsing into the ocean.

The warning, issued on Tuesday morning local time, remained in placed as of the afternoon.

The agency raised the alert status of Ruang to the highest level following the early morning eruption, urging residents not to go near the volcano.

Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said that all 843 residents living in Ruang island, where the volcano is located, have been moved to Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province.

Residents of Tagulandang island are being relocated to Siau island to the north.

Grey ash spews into the sky above a mountain. A boat sits in the ocean in the foreground.
The eruption from Mount Ruang volcano sent a significant amount of ash into the sky.(AFP)

BNPB spokesman Abdul Muhari said a rescue ship and a war ship had been dispatched to help with the relocation of an estimated 11,000-12,000 people from near the volcano’s crater.

“Currently local disaster mitigation agency … military and police are evacuating residents,” he said.

The eruption follows a series of eruptions earlier this month that forced hundreds to evacuate, and the airport in the provincial capital of Manado to close. That eruption also caused damage to some homes.

At the time a warning about the potential for a tsunami was also issued.

Footage shared by Indonesia’s disaster agency showed strikes of lightning flashing above Ruang’s crater, as fiery red clouds of lava and rocks were projected into the air and rained down around the island.

The volcanology agency said the eruption column reached 5km high, and urged any remaining residents within a 7km radius to immediately evacuate, warning of possible further “explosive eruptions”.

Ruang island is about 100 kilometres from Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province in the north-central region of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.

The eruption corresponded with a spike in seismic activity and deep volcanic earthquakes, the disaster agency said.

Authorities closed Manado’s Sam Ratulangi airport again on Tuesday, citing the possible spread of volcanic ash. The transport ministry said the airport will remain closed until noon on Wednesday local time.

Authorities downgraded the status level to level three last week before bumping it up again to level four on Tuesday.

Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area of high seismic activity where multiple tectonic plates meet.


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