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Indonesia Volcano Eruption Prompts Tsunami Threat, Thousands Evacuated

Photo : AFP

The remote Mount Ruang volcano in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province unleashed a series of eruptions on Tuesday, prompting authorities to issue the highest level of alert and order the evacuation of thousands of residents due to the looming threat of a tsunami resulting from debris cascading into the sea.

Indonesia's volcanology agency had previously cautioned that the danger from Ruang volcano persisted after it erupted more than half a dozen times earlier this month, compelling the evacuation of over 6,000 individuals.

Ruang erupted initially at approximately 01:15 am local time on Tuesday (1715 GMT Monday), followed by two subsequent eruptions later that morning, as reported by the volcanology agency.

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The eruptions expelled a towering column of ash exceeding five kilometers (3.1 miles) into the sky and unleashed a fiery stream of lava, according to the agency's statement.

Abdul Muhari, spokesperson for the national disaster agency BNPB, indicated that an estimated 11,000 to 12,000 people residing near Ruang's crater were relocated. He emphasized ongoing efforts by local disaster mitigation agencies, the military, and the police to facilitate the evacuation process.

Visuals released by the agency depicted a vivid scene of a crimson-hued column ascending into the atmosphere, accompanied by a vast ash cloud billowing from the crater and fiery embers scattered near nearby residences.

In response to the eruption and the potential for volcanic material to enter the sea, triggering tsunamis, the disaster agency imposed a seven-kilometer exclusion zone around Ruang. This precautionary measure aimed to safeguard against potential hazards like ejections of incandescent rocks and scalding clouds.

Abdul mentioned the dispatch of a rescue ship and a warship to aid in relocating residents from neighboring Tagulandang island to Siau island, given the tsunami alert. He urged residents on Tagulandang island to steer clear of coastal areas and remain vigilant.

The apprehensions about tsunamis were underscored by historical events, including the cataclysmic 1871 tsunami that claimed approximately 400 lives after volcanic debris plunged into the sea. Moreover, memories of the 2018 eruption of Mount Anak Krakatoa, which triggered a devastating tsunami, remain fresh in the collective consciousness.

Despite previous evacuations, some residents had returned home after the recent volcanic activity subsided. However, Ruang's latest eruption compelled authorities to close Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, over 100 kilometers away, due to volcanic ash.

Indonesia, situated within the Pacific "Ring of Fire," regularly contends with seismic and volcanic disturbances, highlighting the perpetual vigilance required to mitigate the risks posed by natural disasters.

April 30, 2024 4:35 p.m. 4284

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