Thousands evacuated following Indonesia volcano eruption

January 02, 2024 10:42 pm | Updated 10:42 pm IST - Maumere, Indonesia

Motorists ride as mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki spews hot smoke in Flores Timur, Nusa Tenggara, Timur province on January 02, 2024.

Motorists ride as mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki spews hot smoke in Flores Timur, Nusa Tenggara, Timur province on January 02, 2024. | Photo Credit: AFP

More than 2,000 residents have been evacuated to temporary shelters amid heightened volcanic activities in a volcano in eastern Indonesia, a local official said on January 2.

Mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki in East Nusa Tenggara province has erupted several times in recent weeks, including an eruption on Monday that spewed volcanic ash 1.5 kilometres (4,800 feet) above its peak, according to the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG).

The agency recorded another eruption from Lewotobi Laki-Laki on Tuesday but ash clouds from the volcano were not observed, it said in a statement.

Volcanic ashes from recent eruptions have affected two sub-districts near Lewotobi Laki-Laki mountain, prompting more than 2,200 residents to evacuate to temporary shelters set up by local governments, Benediktus Bolibapa Herin, an official for East Flores district, told AFP on Tuesday.

"There are 1,931 evacuees in the Wulanggitang (sub-district), and 328 evacuees in the Ile Bura (sub-district)," Herin said, adding that the number of the evacuees could rise as more people seek safety from the volcano.

"Due to the increase in (Mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki's) status, the communities must be relocated to safe zones to anticipate unwanted things."

Authorities on Monday raised the volcano's status to the second-highest of Indonesia's four-tiered alert levels and expanded the exclusion zone from two kilometres to four kilometres (13,100 feet) around its crater.

The volcano's ashes also forced Frans Seda Airport, located more than 80 kilometres away, to close since Monday, state news agency Antara reported.

The Southeast Asian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of intense volcanic and seismic activity.

Last month, Mount Marapi, which means "mountain of fire", on Sumatra island erupted and 23 people were killed.

Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes.

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